Valerie Thompson is without a doubt the Queen of Speed. She is the world’s fastest female motorcycle streamliner racer, hitting an incredible 328.467mph on the BUB 7 Streamliner motorcycle and is an eight-time Speed Record holder. She is also an inductee in the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, a member of numerous 200 MPH Clubs and one 300 MPH Club. She is also known as Australia’s fastest female motorcycle land speed racer and was recently included in the Dealernews “Top 100 Leaders in Powersports” list. And that was all before lunch.
Most of us who ride motorcycles have “gone fast” on a bike. But we’re talking topping out at like 110 or 120mph. The fastest I ever went was 160mph on a 1000R Ninja. Even at that speed, the wind becomes a solid wall of force. So I had to ask Valerie, what does it feel like to pilot a Streamliner to over 300 miles per hour?
“It starts with me walking to the streamliner in my fire suit and helmet. Focusing. Getting my head around what is about to happen. My team is pushing and pulling me into a tiny cockpit that was made just to fit me. I am form-fitted into it, being strapped in, like a sardine in a can. They close the canopy over me and it is quiet for a moment but my focus is to make history.
“The engine comes to life and I get a burst of energy but then I go into a calm zone… totally focused. I touch the controls and know I won’t let go of them until the run is over. Then I am off! The experience is loud and bumpy and yet somehow serene. I am going very fast and the ground is very close. But I can’t afford any distraction. I get tunnel vision, only paying attention to the RPMs and I go for it. Your peripheral vision helps you focus on where you are on the track. In first gear you’re going 199 mph. In second gear you’re up to 255. In third gear you hit 335 and in fourth you can hit 363 mph.”
“Oddly, it all happens in slow motion. I don’t think about how fast I’m going and inside the streamliner you don’t feel the wind so you don’t feel how fast you are going. Sometimes the run that feels the slowest is actually your fastest. My execution has to be perfect and every run is a chance to make history. When you’re racing, you have to manage your fear. You have to understand the limits of your machine and manage risk. You have to have confidence in yourself, your vehicle and your team.”
I asked Valerie what inspires her to take these risks. She smiled and said, “The challenge.” When asked how she got into racing, what inspired her, she says, “Nobody inspired me to race. It was the challenge. I was always told I couldn’t do it. Mainly, I wanted to avoid getting tickets on my street bike. I was in my late 30’s when I started racing. I was told that I was out of control and that I should take it to the racetrack. I took my bike to a drag strip to see how fast it could go. Once I started, I never left. My local H-D dealership sponsored me and in my second year of racing, I placed third in the All Harley Drag Racing Association (AHDRA).”
Jesse Jurrens of Legend Air was a big inspiration to Valerie, sponsoring her racing efforts. “He invited me to the Bonneville Salt Flats to race my motorcycle. I thought I’d slip and fall on the salt. Even though I was worried, I bucked up and went out there. I went 153 mph on my V-Rod, doing everything I could to hold on, rookie-style. The wind became a solid force and my helmet started choking me out. Luckily, I had a lot of great teachers who took me under their wings. I learned a lot from famous racer Wink Eller.”
Valerie’s racing career led her into the biker lifestyle, not the other way around. In 2018 she was inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Now she’s on a mission to rewrite motorsports history in 2021 with the Target 550 streamliner team in Australia this coming March at the Dry Lakes Racing Association (DLRA) Speed Week competition by breaking the current FIA conventional wheel-driven, piston-powered automobile class speed record of 415.867 mph.
But that’s not all. Valerie and Team 7 Racing plan a minimum of two events in 2021 for the famed BUB 7 motorcycle streamliner, including a private testing session and competing at the Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials August 28 – September 2nd.
If successful with both the Target 550 and Team 7 Racing teams, Valerie will become the first woman to ever go over 500 mph in a car and over 400 in a streamliner motorcycle. Her success story and relentless quest to become the world’s fastest motorcycle racer is a key plotline in “Rockets and Titans” an upcoming film documentary about the competitive world of land speed racing. You may have also seen Valerie featured in the award-winning documentary films, including “Why We Ride” and “Mega Speed” (Discovery Channel).
In 2021, Valerie could actually become the first woman over 400 mph both in a car and motorcycle. Already ranked #7 on the world’s fastest motorcycle racers of all-time list, Valerie has become the first woman in the seat of the incredible Treit and Davenport Target 550 Streamliner. While other women have reached fabulous speeds in a car and others in a motorcycle streamliner, no woman has done both. The net result might be the first driver over 500 mph in a piston engine car, and over 400 mph in a motorcycle. Something that NOBODY, man or woman, has ever accomplished.
Visit ValerieThompsonRacing.com for more information or follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.