A photo of a strange Porsche 935 with a unique bicycle posted here set the Porschephiles at PorschePurist.com searching for an explanation. Here's their story of Jean Claude Rude and his pursuit of the world bicycle speed record. — Ed.
When I first spotted the picture below on Jalopnik I thought to myself "I need to know the story behind this picture." As it turns out, there's some interesting history and I learned about a sport that's new to me, motor-pacing.
150 mph is fast, in any car, Porsche or not. Imagine how fast it must be on a bicycle? That was the speed Jean Claude Rude was trying to reach in his attempt to break the world bicycle speed record in 1979 (that's him in the picture above holding on to the bike).
At the time of Rude's attempt, he needed to hit 128 mph to break the previous record of 127 mph held and set by Jose Meiffret in 1962. Using a heavily modified Porsche 935, a high-speed track in Wolfsburg, Germany (possibly a VW test track?) and Henri Pescarolo as driver (legendary F1 and Le Mans racer), Rude wanted to shatter the record and thought he could hit 150 mph.
As you can see, the Porsche was modified so that Rude could slide in behind the tail of the 935 (notice the roller on the bumper in the picture above) and draft in the slip-stream that created a near perfect vacuum (that means no friction/wind resistance). Rude was well on his way to achieving his goal and breaking the record when the tire on his bike blew out at speeds north of 105 mph. Miraculously, he was able to keep control of the bike and live for a second attempt.
From there, history get's a bit hazy. There are conflicting reports about a second attempt (and even reports that Rude was killed by a train trying to set the record), but I've been unable to find any references or cite any material that can confirm this. One thing's for sure, the attempt made history and was even captured as a 1:43 die-cast by Spark.
Believe it or not, this is a fairly popular sport, known as "Motor Pacing" and the current record stands at a staggering 167 mph. 167 mph! Our '73 911 T gets squirrely at anything over 110 mph (without an S spoiler on the front bumper, it feels like the front-end is going to lift off). We can't imagine what it must feel like to be on one of these bikes.
PorschePurist.com is one of the web's foremost destinations for Porsche owners and automotive enthusiasts interested in the cars, products and lifestyle associated with the Porsche brand. This post was republished with permission from the publishers.
[Source: Team Mcall USA, Jalopnik, ClubRoadster.net]