Bobby Sirkegian's 122-mph Bonneville bike with special Rollie Free Avon rear tire
1951 Triumph 650 Salt Flats Racer
Frame no. 6268N
Engine no. 6T-8602NA
At 13 years old, Bobby Sirkegian was already used to going 100 mph. Riding tuned Triumph drag bikes sponsored by his father's Los Angeles dealership, he was a top competitor on the many quarter-mile dragstrips popping up in Southern California in the 1950s. In 1953, running at the first-ever sanctioned drag race championships in Pomona, California what would become the NHRA Nationals Sirkegian took wins in both the 500 and 650cc classes. The kid was a double champ at age 13! He repeated the feat in '54.
Because Bonneville officials knew of young Bobby's prowess on a drag bike, he was given special permission to run at Bonneville Speed Week in 1953. He lined up for passes in the 650cc class on a bike built very much along the same lines as his drag racers. Cylinders were bored .040-over, a big-bearing crankshaft was fitted, as were special-grind Iskenderian camshafts and lifters, and lightened, narrowed timing gears. A flow-benched cylinder head benefitted from enlarged intake and exhaust valves, S&W valve springs and a special manifold setup for the twin Amal carbs with attached GP-type float bowls. A BTH racing magneto provided spark. A 3-gallon fuel tank from Triumph's 3T model carried enough gas for the salt flats speed runs. Because stopping was not a great concern but friction was, a brake-less spool hub was fitted up front.
One of the bike's speed secrets was provided by family friend Rollie Free, famous for his record 150.313-mph "bathing suit" run aboard the world's fastest Vincent in 1948. Free gave the Sirkegians a pair of his 3x20-inch Avon "File Tread" rear tires specially developed for high-speed work at Bonneville. Bobby's 122-mph pass on a 650 didn't set any class records but he was given a special award for the being the youngest rider ever on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Sirkegian never returned to Bonneville as a competitor. He continued drag racing, winning some 200 trophies and setting track records from California to Kansas. At 17, he gave up sprinting for the rough-and-tumble of AMA flat-track racing, but he always kept the Bonneville Triumph 650. It has just been treated to a full restoration by Sirkegian himself, and wears one of the super-rare 20-inch Avon rear land-speed tires. Also included is the bike's brass SCTA timing tag from Bonneville 1953. Sold on a Bill of Sale.
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