And no one really understands it until they’ve done it.
Just ask Mike Stone. The owner of Beeville’s Sonic Drive-in is among that rare breed of thrill seekers who has pushed his Kawasaki ZX-14 beyond the 200 mph point several times.
He started running in the Texas Mile event when it was still being held at what had once been an auxiliary landing field for Navy fighter pilot trainees near Goliad.
He was happy when the event made the move to the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex just southeast of Beeville.
But Stone went to the last Texas Mile event, in October 2013, purely as a spectator.
Last weekend, Stone made only one run, but he had invested plenty in the attempt.
It was the first time Stone had raced in the Mile in 18 months, and he wanted to make a statement for his comeback.
Before he made that run he took the bike to Terry Kizer at Mr. Turbo’s shop in Houston.
On Monday of last week, Stone’s engine was still on a work bench in Kizer’s shop in pieces.
Kizer was completely revamping the engine, installing a new crank shaft on the straight, four-cylinder engine.
Mr. Turbo was also inserting new rods, pistons, valves and a new fuel injection system that took the engine from its original 180 horsepower to 425 hp.
“It should do 230,” Stone said Saturday as he waited his turn at the crosswind runway at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex.
Hundreds of spectators had joined a couple hundred bike and car owners for the three-day, no speed limit event. And the motorcycles were the ones going the fastest, leaving the cars in the dust all day Saturday.
Stone said Kizer was just the person to work on his Kawasaki. Kizer was the mechanic who first put the turbo on a motorcycle, allowing him to outrun every motorcycle on the track during the 1970s and ’80s.
Race organizers finally told Kizer he could no longer compete against the other bikes on the tracks, and they created an entirely different class for turbocharged motorcycles.
“But he still outran all of them,” Stone said of Kizer.
On Saturday, Stone was not running on normal gasoline. He had 116 octane leaded ethylene in the engine.
“It’s commonly known as bright blue jet fuel,” Stone said.
Fortunately, because of the shorter rods Stone had installed in that engine, the compression in the cylinders is low enough that he can still drive the bike on the street using 88 octane gasoline.
Stone’s run was almost perfect. Toward the end, he realized that a lack of air pressure would not allow him to shift the transmission into the last gear before he reached the mile marker.
Texas Mile officials use a state-of-the-art timing system that lets the drivers know how fast they were going when they crossed the half-mile point and their final speed when they crossed the mile.
Fans closely watch the half-mile speed and try to guess what the final speed will be on each run.
Stone drew whistles and cheers at the starting line when he zoomed past the half-mile timing point at 186.8 mph. Everyone knew immediately that he would qualify again for the Texas Mile’s coveted membership in the 200+ club.
Without disappointing the crowd, and even with a last-minute failure of his transmission, he managed to streak by the one-mile timing sensor doing 210.0 mph.
Although Stone admits he is a speed freak, he explains quickly that he does not indulge in any other kind of motorcycle competition.
In the six years he’s been racing against the clock, he has always kept the bike going in a straight line.
“I like my knees,” he said.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.