Castrol Rocket Hits the Salt with Carpenter Power

After two years toiling in secrecy, Carpenter Racing has announced their involvement with the “Castrol Rocket” land speed motorcycle produced by Triumph Motorcycles North America.

The Castrol Rocket will attempt to break the all-out speed record for motorcycles currently set at 376.363 mph.  The streamliner is powered by two turbocharged Triumph Rocket III motors built by Carpenter Racing.

Based on Carpenter’s success with the Rocket III street machines - including breaking the 8-second barrier on the drag strip - Triumph engineers had their man to lead the engine development on the high-visibility project. Carpenter Racing has been involved with the Castrol Rocket from the beginning including initial design concepts.

The displacement limit for the class is 3000 cc’s and the Rocket III’s 2300 cc engine could be stroked to come just under the limit, but Carpenter Racing’s Bob Carpenter thought a better way to go would be to de-stroke the motor and use two of them.

“It just made sense,” said Carpenter, pictured right. “One huge engine would most likely torch the bearings.  With the shorter stroke we can have higher RPM’s with less stress on the motors.  Plus the added weight of an additional engine adds some traction which is hard to come by on the salt.”

Each engine now displaces 1485 cc's.  The stock, 3.75-inch stroke was reduced to 2.4 inches.  Carpenter Racing performed all engine development as well as turbo system design.

“We are easily producing over 1,000 horsepower at the rear wheel,” said Carpenter.

Another major player in the Castrol Rocket project is Matt Markstaller of Hot Rod Conspiracy who constructed the motorcycle as well as the Kevlar bodywork.  The machine is over 25 feet long and is 2 feet wide and 3 feet high.

Piloting the machine is roadracer Jason DiSalvo.  DiSalvo, who rides the Latus Motors Castrol Triumph Daytona 675R in the AMA GoPro Daytona Sportbike series, has land speed racing experience, piloting a Carpenter-prepared Triumph Rocket III street bike to an FIM record of 174.276 mph.

Still, the cramped cockpit of the Castrol Rocket took some getting used to for DiSalvo.  The team’s recent Bonneville test session focused on two aspects of the project: getting an all-up test of the machine and letting DiSalvo get used to driving a motorcycle you are contained within, as opposed to sitting on top of.

The test session went well with the team completing successful test passes at a top speed of 104 mph. Wind and rain kept the team from going further.

“This is a long process,” said Carpenter.  “It’s a very complicated machine so it will take a little time to get to where we can take a legitimate shot at the record.”

The current land speed record holder, “Ack Attack”, driven by Rocky Robinson, is powered by a pair of turbocharged Suzuki Hayabusa motors.

Triumph once owned the salt, holding land speed records from 1955 to 1970.  Although the factory has not been involved in land speed racing since then, their Bonneville model - with a nod toward past land speed glory - has been a best-seller in their lineup.

“This is their game,” said Carpenter.  “And they got back in with both feet.”

Carpenter also noted that in addition to the Rocket III engine packages, his company will offer performance upgrades for the Triumph Bonneville as well.

The Castrol Rocket project has gotten noteworthy media attention including the NY Times and LA Times. Check out more details of the project at

“We are very proud of the work we have done with Triumph in the past and we are very proud to be part of this team,” said Bob Carpenter.

Carpenter Racing: 856-753-1555


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