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a black electric motorcycle sits stationary against the horizon of the Bonneville salt flats
Senior team member Mike Love said, "Our effort was a fun way to continue fostering the spirit of innovation and teamwork we learned while at Texas A&M. We had over 300 hours in computational fluid dynamics alone, plus another 100 hours in full-load battery testing and cell matching before we even started assembling the bike. That was time very well spent, given our dominance over the previous records." | Image: Courtesy of Team Speed Hertz

Team Speed Hertz made history at the 2021 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials, breaking national (official) and international (unofficial) records in two classes, surpassing the previously set records from 2014 by over 25 mph. 

Composed of former students from the J. Mike Walker ’66 Department of Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University, the team met while competing in the Formula Society of Automotive Engineers (FSAE) program, which Dr. Make McDermott advised from 1998-2014. McDermott’s tenure as the faculty advisor for the Texas A&M team is one of the most successful in FSAE history — something that shows in team Hertz’s success. 

The Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials, or the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) Land Speed Grand Championship, is the premier motorcycle land speed racing event. Held near Salt Lake City, Utah, teams from around the world meet at the Bonneville Salt Flats — where the land is so flat you can see the Earth’s curvature — to compete against the clock.

Speed Hertz broke two records with their electric motorcycle, reaching speeds of 141 mph with no streamlining and 167 mph with partial streamlining in the AMA sub-150-kilogram electric class. The team broke its own record from day two on day four. On their last attempt, they hit their fastest speed with a peak of 172.7 mph.

Speed Hertz team members have professional careers in engineering ranging from SpaceX and Toyota to custom manufacturing and machining, and they all came together to collaborate and build the record-setting motorcycle from the ground up.

eight men stand together behind an electric motorcycle. the men are donned in jeans, cargo shorts and t shirts. they are wearing sunglasses, cowboy hats and giving the camera a thumb's up
Speed Hertz team members collaborated to create their record-setting motorcycle from the ground up. | Image: Courtesy of Team Speed Hertz

Dr. Srikanth Saripalli, current Formula SAE advisor, spoke about how the FSAE experience encourages collaboration and close bonds among engineers. “Given the amount of work they put together for a year in the class, as well as the team bonding that happens outside of class, FSAE enables them to develop strong tries and camaraderie,” said Saripalli. In fact, Speed Hertz’s team members have nearly 20 years of experience competing together in Texas A&M Formular SAE competitions.

Participants in designing, engineering, building and operating the record-setting electric motorcycle at the 2021 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials include:

  • Cole Easterling ‘09: mechanical engineering
  • William Love ‘07:  biological and agricultural engineering
  • John Cox ’02 ’08: B.S. mechanical engineering technology and M.E. mechanical engineering
  • Chad Kuboviak ‘09: computer science 
  • Brian Bentley ‘09: mechanical engineering
  • Luke Szrama ‘20: mechanical engineering
  • Matt Howell ’01: mechanical engineering
  • Mike Love ‘79: mechanical engineering (B.S., M.S.)
  • Brian Auer ’05: mechanical engineering
  • Scott McDermott (rider): The University of Texas at Austin (UT), fine arts
  • Make McDermott: UT, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., mechanical engineering; Texas A&M, retired mechanical engineering faculty and SAE advisor