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Billings motorcycle record holder preparing for Bonneville

Oren 2.jpg
Posted at 10:28 PM, May 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-14 00:28:40-04

A Billings man set a land speed record in his motorcycle classification at the Bonneville Salt Flats Special Recreation Area in 2021.

COVID and weather have kept him away the last couple of years.

But this summer, he plans on heading back to Utah and going even faster.

Oren Harper set a record of 176.622 miles per hour in the 2001-3000 cc class.

"It's an amazing feeling," Harper said. "The adrenaline is absolutely incredible."

He said some of that feeling is the force from the wind on his arms, which he says is like holding up 50 pound dumbbells.

"The pressure on my forearms is transferring into an increase in weight right in front of the rear wheel," Harper described as he sat on his bike in his garage. "As I increase in speed, so does the pressure on my arms increase, which in turn increases the weight on the rear wheel, maintaining traction."

It can be a dangerous sport and there are crashes.

Harper said he does not make jerky sudden moves, which is very crucial when it's time to stop.

"It's his terrifying," Harper said. "It's the scariest part of the run for me. I used my brakes once and it was awful. It terrified me."

So he likes to coast slowly to a stop.

Harper used to work on Harley Davidsons and does all the mechanical work on his bike without the help of a computer to tune or adjust his engine.

He does not have the big budget that some of his competitors enjoy, but that adds to the challenge and the rewards.

"It doesn't have to be elaborate," Harper said. "Success doesn't have to come in these massive fancy packages."

He set his record at the lower end of the classification with a 2025 cc engine using what he calls 91 octane pump gas.

This summer he'll add some nitro fuel to try to go faster, maybe more than 190 miles per hour.

He has a feel for the bike and has avoided serious accidents.

"I'm most certainly a God fearing man," said Harper. "Now I talked to him frequently. Yeah, yeah, definitely. Yeah, somebody's watching us, you know."

He takes calculated risks, stays careful, sharp and alert and is reminded to do that by messages on his bike from his two children.

"I'm single dad, they're everything to me," he said. "They are my world. The thoughts of them, their artwork, it all helps keep me grounded, keeps keeps me on a safe approach."