LIMESTONE, ME (CBSMiami/AP) — A Florida man, who held the world speed record for a conventional motorcycle, died Sunday morning after he tried to top 300 mph on a runway at a former air base in northern Maine.
Bill Warner, 44, of Wimauma was clocked at 285 mph before he lost control but it was unclear how fast the motorcycle was traveling when it veered off the paved runway and crashed, said Tim Kelly, race director the Loring Timing Association, which hosted “The Maine Event” at Loring Air Force Base.
Warner was conscious and talking after the crash just before 10 a.m., Kelly said, but died about an hour later in a hospital.
“No one will touch Bill’s achievements or be the type of racer he was. He was a personal friend and the land-racing community is less for his loss,” Kelly said.
Riding his modified turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa, Warner previously hit 311 mph on the same course in 2011, using 1.5 miles of pavement. That’s considered to be the world land speed record for a conventional motorcycle, Kelly said.
This time he was trying to hit 300 mph using just a mile of pavement, and he’d made several passes before the one in which he crashed, Kelly said.
The Maine Event is an annual timed speed event that utilizes the 14,200-foot-long runway at the former Strategic Air Command base that closed in 1994. The Loring Timing Association uses 2.5 miles of the runway for its events, and there’s an additional buffer of 2,000 feet, Kelly said.
On Sunday, about 400 spectators watched as Warner began veering right after passing the 1-mile mark, traveling upright for another 2,000 feet before exiting the runway and crashing, Kelly said.
The remainder of Sunday’s event was canceled. The Limestone Police Department and Maine State Police were investigating the crash.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)