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Speed, salt and the Earth

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When racers at Utah’s Bonneville Speed Week return to their hometowns, they often find salt — chunks of it — on the undercarriage of their vehicles.

Seems as if Sequim’s George McMurray comes back with much more than that.

The Sequim mechanic whiz and retired aerospace engineer raced to a pair of world records at Bonneville, earning top marks in the 100cc “Blown Gasoline” and “Blown Fuel” divisions, pushing his significantly modified Yamaha 1983 Rx50 to speeds faster than 99 miles per hour.
 
And he’s already got an eye on bigger and better — and faster — things in 2014.

“I want to go faster in steps,” McMurray says. “I can do better. It’s not just the speed. It’s conquering.”

 

 

Getting ‘the bug’
McMurray was an aerospace engineer for years until he and family moved from the Mojave Desert area in California to Sequim around 2000. He attended school in the Seattle area from 1976-1981 and knew of Sequim, then settled his family because of the area’s good schools.

McMurray has built a strong clientele from those looking to finish mechanical projects, everything from massive upgrades to vintage vehicles to “prototypes:” a special seeding device, CD disc polisher and underwater camera robot, among others.

In 2008, McMurray found inspiration for his newest project - one just for him.

Racing is in the family blood: His brother Joe, who died in 2000, helped spur the family into racing. George, Joe and other brother Jim formed the Tri Mac Speedsters, a name George still uses.

On a visit to Bonneville in 2008, George McMurray looked out across the vast (54 square miles) of salt flats reserved for the top speed racers in the world, and something clicked.

With professional rider Jen Boller at the handlebars, McMurray’s bike set a world record just two years later, in 2010, but encountered problems the next two years. In 2011, a rainstorm struck Bonneville that had McMurray 15 minutes late — too late — for a second qualifying run. A year later, engine problems kept McMurray and crew just 1.3 miles per hour from the record. “We all left dejected,” he says.

To the top
In 2013, however, McMurray wouldn’t be denied. With crew chief John Hanson — who races his own bike in the 1650cc class with speeds up to 150 miles per hour — McMurray sped to a blistering “exit” speed of 99.148 mph and an average speed of 91.659 mph in the “Blown Fuel” class; fuel classes see riders burning an explosive alcohol mixture of methanol and nitro-methane. In the “Blown Gas” class, one that sees riders use gasoline provided by course officials, McMurray posted speeds consistently over 90 miles per hour for the record.

Still, McMurray is excited to get back for more records. In 2014, however, McMurray plans to jump to the 125cc class, modifying the bike with a half Kawasaki, half-Yamaha engine.

“The best of the past and the present,” McMurray said with a grin.

 

McMurray's primary sponsor is P.A. Power Equipment, a local motorcycle shop. The business has sponsored McMurray's efforts since the Sequim racer began chasing world records in 2010.

 

"The owner, Mike Traband strongly supports my national racing efforts by providing test fuel, parts, supplies and a good, old-fashioned hand shake and a pat on the back," McMurray says.

McMurray's other sponsors include: Sequim Valley Airport for space to test McMurray’s not-quite street legal bike, Sequim’s A-1 Auto Part provides hydraulic fluid and Maxima Racing in Santee, Calif., provides racing oils and lubricants.


 

 
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