A man who owns a distillery in Montana built a motorcycle that runs on vodka waste products. When he recently raced it at the Bonneville Salt Flats, he had no idea that he would set a speed record (albeit temporarily).
The Montgomery Distillery amateur race team used a 1980 Yamaha XS650 that was abandoned in a field, reports The Sun. Dubbed “Sudden Wisdom” after the company’s brand of rye whiskey, the team got the motorcycle running again and decided to get creative with the fuel.
When vodka is distilled, it creates a “head” that is not meant for consumption, so it is separated from the product and disposed of. This byproduct, however, can be used as a clean-burning fuel.
Ryan Montgomery assembled a team and collected 40 litres of the vodka waste to make the alternative fuel. Initially, he didn’t know exactly how to build a bike that runs on vodka waste. The 41-year-old had no experience as a bike builder and had never raced, yet he was undeterred. He and some friends were determined to make it happen and spent several months learning the process, setting up shop in Montgomery’s garage.
“Although my friends and I have no prior experience of racing or turning vodka into fuel, the idea was inevitable being bike enthusiasts and working in a distillery,” Montgomery told Sun Motors. “We knew the [fuel] process was possible, but we couldn’t find anyone that had done it with drinking alcohol.”
Montgomery’s friends then encouraged him to test out Sudden Wisdom in the Bonneville time trials.
The project drew the attention of a few sponsors, who donated $1,000. It cost about $5,000 overall to modify the motorcycle. Montgomery’s goal was to reach 98-mph to tie a record that was set in 2016. In road tests, he was able to ride as fast as 96 mph and expected a 10 percent decrease in speed on a salty surface.
Montgomery ended up going 113 mph in the class for 1980 and older 750cc modified bikes with alternative fuel. The team from Missoula, Montana, broke the speed record–but only for a short time. Their record was surpassed three days later by a 1974 Honda CB750 that went 143 mph.
“Glory by its nature is fleeting, and records are always borrowed,” Montgomery Distillery wrote on Instagram. “Today this gentleman – Denis Weinhold – beat our record by a good margin running his 1974 Honda CB750 down the salt flats and back. We got to meet him before we headed back to Missoula and danged if he isn’t a hell of a nice guy. Hats off to you! We sure enjoyed our 15 minutes of glory.”
Montgomery has been a distiller for six years and attended Springbank Whiskey School in Scotland.