An Auckland motorcyclist has broken a world land speed record just two days after languishing in hospital.
Corey Bertelsen, of Muriwai, was still suffering from vomiting and dehydration when he broke the 250cc class record for the third time on the salt flats of Utah in the United States.
The record was set by New Zealand motorcycling legend Burt Munro, the subject of the film The World's Fastest Indian, on his modified Indian Scout motorbike.
Burt claimed the title in 1962 in his S-A 1000cc class.
Bertelsen followed in Munro's speeding tyre tracks to his own world record last month using modern technology.
Fierce determination spurred Bertelsen to hurtle at a top speed of 227.30kmh despite being so weak he kept falling asleep between runs.
His brother Mikey had to wake him for each qualifying dash during the Speed Week in Bonneville.
"I thought there was no way I'm not racing just because I'm sick. It's a long way to go to pull out because you're throwing up," he said.
The 40-year-old broke the 250cc record twice in 2010, soaring to 223.48kmh on August 9 and to 223.84kmh two days later.
Pain proved no barrier to chasing breakneck speeds at the Bonneville nationals - Corey was nursing a crushed collarbone.
"My collarbone was shattered right through from a motorbike crash on the road in Waimauku," the plumber says.
"I didn't want them to mess around with it until I'd raced so I thought I'd worry about it when I came back."
Bertelsen admits to feeling "a little bit sore" during the qualifiers "but I just kind of dealt with it".
The hardened competitor harbours an aversion to painkillers.
"They give them to me but I just throw them away."
He delayed the major operation until he flew home this month.
"The whole centre part of the collarbone was shattered so they took that out," he said.
"They put an artificial bone in, put in a plate and eight screws."
Mikey, a builder, made the 92 horsepower motorcycle narrower and lower to boost speed, and he offered moral support.
"I couldn't have gone without him. He's a major part of the team."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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