Thomas Cronan of Mill Spring recently set a new record by riding 262 mph in a landspeed race at Loring Air Force Base in Maine. The feat earned him an eighth-place spot on a list of the fastest people in the world on a sit-on motorcycle. (photo by Peter Freeman)

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Cronan goes 262 mph on motorcycle

Published 11:06pm Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thomas Cronan of Mill Spring is on the fast track through life – literally.

On Sunday, July 15, Cronan rode 262.161 mph in a motorcycle land speed race, earning an eighth-place spot as one of the fastest people in the world to ride a sit-on motorcycle. His performance set a new record in the Altered Partial Streamliner/Blown Fuel-Under 1650cc/Four Cylinder (APS/BF-1650/4) class with the Loring Timing Association, which sponsored the 1.5-mile race at the Loring Air Force Base in Maine.

Landspeed racing involves riding at an absolute top speed over a measured distance; the most famous place for this type of racing is the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

“There’s no way to describe how it feels to go so fast,” Cronan said. “I was really happy. I finally got a full-out clean pass on the bike. I didn’t know how fast I was going, but I got near the end and people were jumping up and down, so I figured it must have been fast.”

Cronan and his team took two days to finally set the record. On day one, he said, the bike had a little wobble to it. The team changed to a Michelin tire, which he said made all the difference. During an earlier run, Cronan also lost the front brakes on the bike. On his second-to-last run Saturday, as he slowed from about 200 mph, the brake line got caught on the front tire and was ripped off.

“It was definitely an uneasy feeling,” Cronan said, “I did 238 mph on that pass but I was at about 100 mph by the time the front brakes went. I just stepped as hard as I could on the rear brakes.”

The record Cronan broke during that race was his own, set last year at 250 mph on the same bike, a turbocharged 1991 Suzuki GSX-R1100, owned by Eric Paquette’s DAS Performance.

The bike is modified and produces more than 400 horsepower with its 1,276cc turbocharged engine. According to Cronan, his recent record makes him the fastest motorcycle racer in the Carolinas.

Cronan, who rides for DAS Performance of Dracut, Mass., has been racing since he was 16, and has been in more than 50 races.

“I have been working at it since 2003,” Cronan said. “[My success] should tell people even if you come from a small place you can still do big things.”

Cronan’s next challenge will be back at Loring Air Force Base in Maine on Sept. 1-2, where he hopes to break his own record. He will be riding a new bike, he said.

“It has more power,” he said, “but we’ll still be fine-tuning the body work, so we don’t know what it will do yet.”

After that, he will travel to a 1-mile event in Ohio the last weekend in September.

Cronan is currently sponsored by DAS Performance, Harry’s Machine Parts, G&G Engineering, Exile Turbos, Capone Racing, Electromotive Engine Controls, Doc’s Cycleworks, World Wide Bearings, Jung Kwon Martial Arts and JRT Customs.

He lives in Mill Spring with Kimberly Vaughn and their son, Jackson Cronan.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/thomascronanracing www.dasperformance.com. Cronan was also recently featured in a Speed TV article (www.speedtv.com).

You can watch a video of Cronan on YouTube www.youtube.com/watch?v=HBZ7cj0gS6o.

Editor’s note: Ashley Brewington contributed to this article.

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