Town and Country Roofing’s Ron Shincke Sr. is 75-years-old. He shows up to work every day, rain or shine. The owner happens to be his son, but this is not your average father/son relationship. While this father supports his son day to day with his roofing business, Ron Jr., supports his dad every summer as pit crew at one of the most grueling racetracks on the planet – The Bonneville Salt Flats in Tooele, Utah.
This article is part two of this family’s odyssey to break the motorcycle land speed record on Ron’s Harley Davidson Buell motorcycle. The race during Speed Week is coming up soon, August 11 through the 17. Over the winter and spring, while Ron has been training and keeping fit, the crew at Dyno Steve’s Performance have been methodically disassembling his 1000 cc motorcycle and putting it back together. Better, lighter, faster.
Mad Max Meets Burning Man
Ask Steve McConnell from Dyno Steve about the Bonneville Salt Flats track and his answer may surprise you. “It’s horrible,” he says without hesitation, “an absolute miserable place to be.” And then in the next breath, “And it’s been an absolute amazing experience.” Steve and Joel Heiman run Dyno Steve’s Performance and have accompanied Ron and Ron Jr. to the race the past two years.
The first year they packed up their tools and drove all night to the track. “We got there for the opening Saturday morning before the races started. When we showed up, we drove straight on the salt and watched the sun rise. That was it,” he shakes his head remembering. “It is definitely awe-inspiring to be down there.”
For anyone who likes speed and the tools it takes to achieve it, this is the place for you. But it is not the Moto GP – watching riders loop through elevation, camber and terrain changes. This is a straight line, flat surface, give it your all-in one-shot racing. “Being around those people,” says Steve, “it’s like ‘Mad Max’ and Burning Man together. Definitely stressful, there are so many factors you can’t control. And, a lot of sitting and waiting and then, there you go. You see Ron take off and just disappear.”
A Blip in the White
“Since they started working on the bike, we have picked up six miles an hour,” says Ron, “which is a lot for a Harley.” Ron has been inching closer to breaking the A-P/G class record the past few years – within 3 mph with the help of Steve and Joel last year. “It’s Ron Jr., Joel and Steve, the four of us,” says Ron. “All I do is ride the bike, the easiest part,” he says with a laugh.
That ‘easy part’ is incredibly challenging. The average temperature in August is 92 degrees without a slice of shade in sight on a surface that Steve describes as “marbles.”
At the starting line, Ron stands above the bike. He is over 6 feet tall and his bike is lowered to just skim inches above the salt. “We kick it into gear and he engages the clutch,” explains Steve, “as it moves forward he falls on it and is gone. You can see him for maybe 20 or 30 seconds and then he is just a blip in the white.”
When asked if he would ever race at Bonneville, Steve considers the thought for a moment before shaking his head. No, he would rather be behind the scenes tuning the most competitive engine than being on the bike. “For Ron, he is doing this for personal achievement, a personal goal,” Steve says thoughtfully. “He has obviously had an adventure-filled life and requires a certain level of adrenaline input. I don’t think he cares if anyone knows, he just wants it for himself to get his name in the book. It’s his bucket list.”
“I think it kind of goes hand in hand,” says Ron, “people who are risk takers and are good at what they do. When you race you want to be number one. My son is like that with his business, he runs a well-organized, professional business where quality is their number one concern. I think it is his personality with his bikes, his business.”
Ron and Ron Jr. have been up and down mountains, navigated class four rapids, and motorcycled through points unknown. In a few weeks they will be joined by Steve and Joel, back where the curvature of the earth is visible to the naked eye and the surface is ever-changing. And there they will attempt to leave a mark, for however long, as an inspiration to others.
“You live more in 5 minutes on a bike like this than some people live in a lifetime.” – World’s Fastest Indian
For more background on Ron Sr. and Ron Jr and the first part of their land speed record journey, you can read Part One of the series here.