Local motorcyclists set new land speed records

Published 12:15 pm Tuesday, May 23, 2023

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Over the first weekend in May, two local motorcyclists from Polk County set new land speed records at the ECTA Arkansas Mile Competition in Blytheville, Arkansas. Matt Durand from Columbus and Thomas Cronan from Mill Spring made history with impressive rides.

Land speed racing has a long and distinguished history of people built on racers like Matt and Thomas pushing their rides and themselves to the limit; a history built on riders’ attempts to be the fastest in the world. Land speed racing focuses on racers working towards breaking the speed records in their class, defined as the speed over a fixed length.

Matt Durand, riding for his team Dooley Durand Racing, ended up setting eight records on four runs in the half-mile and the mile, doing so under windy and wet conditions. 

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Matt Durand suited up and ready to hit the track on his Yamaha. (Photo courtesy of Matt Durand)


“We were able to set double records because you ran a mile course with the ECTA collecting your time at both the half-mile and mile marker,” explained Durand. “So a record-breaking run in the half-mile also became a record-breaking run in the mile.” 

On his 1984 MPS 350cc two-stroke Yamaha, which he’s ridden in the past and used to set several land-speed records at the Arkansas Mile he currently holds, Durand made the most of his opportunity. 

“Such bad weather was forecasted that we almost decided not to go,” says Durand. “We got there Thursday, but when we got up Friday morning, it was raining with a strong crosswind, and we wondered if we’d even get to unload the bikes.”

Durand continues, “Saturday morning, there was still a crosswind, but it didn’t set us back, and we were able to set the eight records at speeds of about 120 mph. It turned into another great trip to Arkansas despite the weather.

Durand thanked Yetee’s Design of Mill Spring and Taylor Automotive Performance of Dallas, TX, his team and his wife, Gina Durand, for all their help on his record-setting day.

Thomas Cronan of Mill Spring also set six records in the half-mile, mile and 2-km races at the ECTA Arkansas Mile on his Triumph motorcycle. 

“When we got there, the weather was rough,” said Thomas. ‘We tried two runs Friday, but the bike had a few issues, so we spent the rest of the day replacing wheel bearings and tightening everything up. It fixed the handling issue where I could just run it wide open, and we were able to set 6 ECTA records.”

Thomas adds, “We have much to work on before we go to Loring, Maine, in July. We couldn’t do it with the help of so many, especially Black Bart Racing.”


Dooley Durand Racing team members Dan Holycross and Jed Durand unload the bikes (Photo courtesy of Mat Durand).