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Author Topic: 50 years ago  (Read 2416 times)
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Uncle Jimbo
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Location: Downers Grove, Illinois
Posts: 408

« on: September 01, 2014, 05:23:37 PM »

                                                                                         The Gray Ghost II Project
Fifty years ago a couple of guys from Chicago named Warner Riley & Jim Leinweber went to the Bonneville Salt Flats to fulfill their need for speed. They were destined to return.
     In 1970 a team came together to attain the all out World Land Speed Record for Harley Davidson. The team included Clyde Denzer, Denis Manning, Dick O’Brien,John Pohland, Cal Rayborn, Warner Riley, Craig Rivera, George Smith, & John Yeats. Warner Riley was the engine builder.
It is quite a story -
     Fast forward to 2006 when I attended the AMA/BUB International Motorcycle Speed Trials, and did the Run Whatcha Brung. That’s all it took, and I was severely bitten by the salt bug. On the way back home I was already figuring out what was needed to be done to go again the next year.
     That winter of 06-07  I received a surprise phone call that changed my life.  A gentleman named Warner Riley was on the other end, said he saw a photo of our 1974 Iron Head Sportster nicknamed the Gray Ghost, at Bonneville and wanted to know if I would like to go a bit faster. I about fell out of my chair, knowing about Warner & the Manning, Riley, Rivera streamliner, I could not believe this was happening.
    The next couple years I was schooled by one of the best H.D. Iron Head Sportster builders still around, also with some help from the great guys at S&S.  Naturally aspirated Sportster setting records at Bonneville, Wilmington Ohio Mile, & the Loring Timing Assoc. Maine.
Noticing we had the old Iron about as fast as it could be, and trying to compete with the newer alloy motors was not going to be in the cards, it was time to rethink.
   Then came the Gray Ghost II Project.      Warner’s theory of we should go faster every year, and “the harder you work, the luckier you get” was settling in.  With help & encouragement from George Smith & the team at S&S we put together a 100 cu. in. SuperStock Sportster ready for the 2012 AMA/BUB Motorcycle Speed Trials. The next two years the Team set records again at Bonneville, Wilmington, & LTA. Best speed to date is 176.482 and yes, this year we will be trying to up that number. As Warner would say – That’s what we do isn't  it -
     No matter what venue we attend as a Team, Warner always has time to help other racers with questions they have. Whether it’s a mechanical question, or a gearing question he’ll tackle it with no reservations. A mathematical wizard figuring gear ratios for other racers, always willing to share his vast knowledge of the  LSR sport.  Like the Big Brother you never had, always concerned not only about making that engine run the best it ever could, but also for your safety.
     If there was ever a true Ambassador to the Land Speed Racing sport , it would be my Crew Chief and good friend Warner Riley.
Thank you Warner for all you have done, not only helping me & the Gray Ghost project, but also for the countless other racers you have helped answer their questions.  You belong in that AMA Hall of Fame !  - So -  It's time for me to ask everyone to write the AMA and nominate our Crew Chief Warner W. Riley to the AMA Hall of Fame
The Gray Ghost Project
18 Land Speed Records
LTA - ECTA - AMA Bonneville

From days of old, when knights were bold, and rode Iron Horses
24 Land Speed Records
M/PP 1350 AMA/BUB - M/CPG 1350 - M/CPF 1350 - LTA
M/PG 1650 - M/PF 1650 - AMA/BUB
A/PG 1650 - A/PF 1650 -  ECTA - LTA
Top speed to date 194.664
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2014, 08:07:01 PM »

Great story Jimbo, thanks for sharing  grin grin grin

Tiny (in OZ)
I would prefer to make horsepower, rather than buy, or hya it, regardless of the difficulties involved , as it would then be MINE
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Location: Rapid City SD
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2014, 08:27:35 PM »

I cant believe Warner Riley is NOT in the AMA hall of fame....WOW

yes will follow up on this....


Joe Smiley
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Location: Angleton, Texas
Posts: 559

Impound is the place to be

« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2014, 08:48:20 AM »

Great story Jim, There's no doubt we should meet one day on the salt. Bonneville seems to be the place for so many unsung hero's of the automotive world.

Warner Riley is one of the greatest HD engine builder of all time, and that should be in the book.

AMA Hall of Fame , yes from me.


Johnnie Rouse
Bike 4680 P-PP2000 SCTA record 153.325    A-PF3000 177.920
                              Texas Mile 152.518
If you love your freedom thank a vet.
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