In 1950, 2 years after his more-famous-than-Jesus swim-suit speed run at Bonneville, Rollie Free returned to the salt to reclaim his record. This time he arrived with a fully enclosed Vincent Black Lightning, a first attempt at streamlining by Rollie and on day 2 he made his first full-speed run.

Things did not go well. As he approached his 155 mph target speed the motorcycle became skittish, almost certainly due to aerodynamic issues, before Rollie could come off the throttle the bike entered a severe tank slapper, lost control and flipped onto it’s side.

Once the faired bike was sideways there was nothing Rollie could do but hold on tight and pray that the coarse salt surface of the dried lake didn’t wear through the thin fibreglass shell. By the time he came to a stop he had slid almost a full mile on his side, despite this he stepped out of the fairing unharmed and went on to set a new world record the next day at a speed of 156.58 mph.

Read more about Rollie Free here.

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Ben Branch has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, the official Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.

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