Opportunity of a lifetime Dunn brothers keep motorcycle racing tradition alive at Bonneville
Zach Dunn, 38, and T.J. Dunn, 37, of Medford, have been racing motorcycles for as long as they can remember.
In memory of their father, Randy Dunn, Zach and T.J. have taken their father’s enthusiasm and his love for racing full circle. They started their training ice racing on Pewaukee Lake in Waukesha County. Their dad trained them in mechanics and repair, but Zach also went to school for outboard repair.
Working at Meyer Manufacturing, as their full time job, the brothers spend the rest of their time gearing up for the biggest race of the year: The Bonneville Salt Flat races in Utah.
The Salt Flats are a feat for any racer. Racing only one month a year, racers gear up for this event all year long.
The Salt Flats were formed when the waters of Lake Bonneville began to recede, leaving minerals like gypsum (used to make household wallboard) and halite (common table salt) behind. The flats are estimated 12 miles long, 5 miles wide, and just over 46 square miles. If there is wind over 12 miles per hour, the participants are unable to run. People come from all over the world to race at Bonneville. For a lot of these racers, Bonneville is their one and only shot to see if what they created will go the speed they want it to go. Racers hope to set a new speed record when they go to Bonneville.
Zach says that “The main focal point of Bonneville is you have one opportunity to see if your creation works. Sometimes there are good runs, sometimes there are bad runs, it is all on a trial and error basis.” There are two trials the racers must pass before they can go any further in the competition. The first trial is to not go over 120 miles per hour. In another trial, the racers go between 140-150 miles per hour. After both trials are passed, then they are able to go and attempt to set a world record. Some of the competitors spend their whole lives gearing up for this one race. Zach commented that one individual who competed got his bike up to 120 miles per hour and he had spent 30 years trying to get his engine up to that speed.
The brothers have spent the last three years building their motorcycles to be able to get them primed for Bonneville. They are a self-owned family of racers. They do not have any sponsors so they fund their own hobby. Throughout the year, they plan what they want to build, save up the funds for their equipment, and then in the winter, they build their machines.
Zach exclaimed that he races for “the thrill of the sport.” He also added that “There is an adrenaline rush that he gets when he steps on his bike and he hopes for the best.” With his own goals in mind, he isn’t trying to outdo anyone but himself.
In recent years, the brothers haven’t raced locally, there are no local tracks around the area to show the racing that they do. Bonneville is the ultimate racing strip. He is passionate about the sport and stated that if he wasn’t racing he would be working on motorcycles.
If Zach could pass any advice onto the next generation, it would be to “keep the tradition alive.” The Salt Flats are a piece of history that should be preserved. This race has been ongoing for several years and he would not like to see the race end.
T.J. Dunn, 37 and his brother Zach Dunn, 38, recently had the opportunity of a lifetime to race motorcycles at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.