Back in the 1970’s and 80’s hydrogen peroxide-fueled, rocket-powered vehicles the world over were shocking crowds with unthinkable elapsed times and speeds on the quarter mile that have never even come close to being toppled, and likely never will. But with growing safety concerns brought on by a number of deaths, and a lack of higher grade hydrogen peroxide needed to fuel them – at least here in the states – they essentially became extinct.
As far as we can recollect, it’s been as many as 25 years since a rocket-powered vehicle last made a pass in the United States – at least in front of the public eye. But that all changed over the weekend when Eric Teboul brought his record-setting motorcycle over from Europe to make exhibition passes at the Haltech Manufacturers Cup Finals at the Bradenton Motorsports Park in Florida. What resulted, however, wasn’t just an epic show for the crowd (many of whom had likely never seen or even heard of hydrogen peroxide-fueled vehicles), but the breaking of a world record for two-wheeled vehicles with the quickest pass ever on a standing quarter-mile by a motorcycle on Saturday afternoon.
Teboul, who has run down into the five-teens and twenties over in Europe (the previous record stood at 5.19) and over 280 MPH, shattered his own records in front of the American crowd, blasting his way to a 5.12 at 264.39 MPH. Teboul had vowed to add some additional fuel to the bike in his visit to the states in an attempt to break his record, and that he did. The world record for a wheel-driven bike stands at a 5.70, recorded by Swedish Top Fuel rider Peter Svensson (who was also stateside for the Finals). That’s more than half a second quicker than a performance most of humanity already would consider clinically insane. According to records we can find, Teboul’s 281.47 MPH blast in November of 2011 at the Santa Pod Raceway in England still stands as the speed record.
For the uninitiated, rocket-powered vehicles use thrust, created by the pressurization of the hydrogen peroxide, to power it to such incredible, instantaneous speeds. However, once lit, these engines will continue until they run out of fuel, making the fueling process an exercise with life or death consequences. Based on a number of factors, including atmospheric conditions, the teams will put just enough hydrogen peroxide into the tank to power the vehicle for the distance they need it to run, and not a millisecond more. In the case of Teboul, in order to provide enough time to safely stop the bike, only enough fuel was provided to run it to somewhere around 800-1,000 feet, which is clearly evident by the speed paired with the elapsed time, Make no mistake about it, if Teboul were to run the bike all the way to the scoreboards it would easily run into the four-second range at upwards of 300 MPH, if not more.
Teboul’s concerns about getting the bike stopped made the pass shown in these video clips the furthest pull he made all weekend, as the team shut it down earlier on subsequent runs, which included a 5.80 at 176 MPH and a 5.33 at 228 MPH.
Truly mind-numbing numbers here and a performance that is historic for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the fans in Bradenton were witness to something that an entire generation of young drag racers have only read about, but never seen in person.
As for Teboul….there’s not even a family-friendly, PG-rated comment we can think of to describe the fortitude it must require to lay a leg over this bike and hit the switch. Just incredible.