Good Sports: Valley family satisfies need for speed

September 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The world's best motorcycle drag racer is a Central Valley native who has satisfied his need for speed out of his downtown Fresno business.

Chris Rivas' penchant for breaking speed records is turning into a family affair.

The sound is distinctive - so much power packed into such a tiny engine on a motorcycle just bigger than your average Harley.

"96 inches is a fairly large engine. This is 167. Typically they would have one carburetor or one throttle body. This one's got two," Bonneville land-speed world record holder Rivas said.

For Rivas drag racing on motorcycles has been a life-long love affair, one that earned him four prestigious Wally trophies while racing professionally in the NHRA 2008.

"I was able to accelerate from zero to 193 miles per hour in 6.9 seconds, and that pretty much is the top of the game," Rivas said.

One that earned him a world land-speed record just last week going over 201 miles per hour at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

"So much adrenaline happening and to travel a given miles at 200 miles per hour means that you're doing it a 17 seconds. That's a long time. The whole world kind of slows down for you," Rivas said.

The owner of Chris Rivas V-Twin in downtown Fresno for 17 years Rivas is the world's best both in competition and in the shop using complex math equations to maximize output.

"The same technology that went into this to go 200 miles per hour - we do use that to go into the customer's bikes," Rivas said. "I readjusted the angle of that and got back into my math books and redid all my geometry, welded it all back together, and lo and behold now it works really well."

But for Rivas and his wife Linda, nothing beats their 12-year-old daughter Cayla setting a set a land-speed record of her own going 62 miles per hour last week at Bonneville in her first competitive ride.

"We were very ecstatic. That was a different kind of a high for me, to see my own daughter doing that is just something on a whole new level of pride," Rivas said.

Chris Rivas is not done either - he's already looking forward to next August when hopes to go from 201 to 215 miles per hour.

"We feel like we've learned a lot about engines in the last few years. A lot about transmissions, frame geometry so now it's time to learn about the aerodynamics aspect of it, and we're going to refine what we have," Rivas said.

Already the best and still learning proving there's slowing down Fresno's finest.

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