The Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Contests - 1980 thru 1985

Racing for the right reasons

The most wonderful motorcycle project I have ever been involved with.

"Doing More with Less Energy"
I had read that Shell Oil sponsored contests wherein contestants got 1200 miles per gallon! Wow! Turns out that that was "Silly Mileage" achieved under silly conditions... on little go kart things at walking speeds in a parking lot. Not anything like real highway conditions. Not at all useful. What was the point?

What mileage is possible at real highway conditions?

How much power would it take?

What would it look like?

In 1980, nobody knew. I thought it was time to find out. Between 1980 and 1985, I sponsored the Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Contests. We learned how to get over 470 miles per gallon! On real highways - in real conditions. You want to know how to get better mileage? Read on.

In 1981, I designed and built this 22 hp "Luxury Touring Streamliner"

Streamlining clarified

The idea was to inspire contestants to come find out what the minimum requirements were necessary to push a person down the road in real conditions.

Brenda Wilvert. Racing for the right reasons
Steve Bruhn's machine of 1984

In 1984, Steve took 7th place overall - 173 mpg - on his streamlined but otherwise stock SR 185 Yamaha. In 2011, Steve sent this link to his web page with very interesting stories about the design, construction and riding of his machine. Maybe we'll get him back into the new challenges.

The Craig Vetter Fuel Economy Contests:
The first contest was held at the Vetter Rally in Colorado Springs. It moved to the West Coast and eventually became a part of the events at Laguna Seca Raceway.




Ms. Lammy Johnstone 1000cc HD 98 mpg

Charly Perethian Yam 185 372 mpg





Mike Hishiki Honda XL80 189 mpg

Matzu Matsuzawa Honda XL125 377 mpg





Charly Perethian Yam 185 282 mpg

Matzu Matsuzawa Honda XL125 470 mpg

After a lapse of 25 years, I have resumed the Challenge. The goals are a little different. Measuring the winner is a little different. The goal is still to do more with less. Like always, this is the most wonderful project I have been involved with.

This is racing for the right reasons

How did they do it?
San Francisco, Oct 20, 2007. I made this presentation to the ICSID/ IDSA World Congress "Connecting '07"

Two HDTF cameras recorded the event. Professionally mastered.

This may be the most important resource on my website.

48 minutes long. Over 200 never before published high quality images including video.

Interviews with the winners tell us what worked and what did not work

Everything I know about these machines and their designer-builders is on this DVD.

Your better mileage project begins on this DVD
This video requires QuickTime to play. You can download it free from Apple's site here
"Popular Culture believes one thing...

The Truth may be something else."

470 mpg DVD $25 includes shipping 470 mpg DVD $30 includes shipping
Comments about the DVD:
"I recently received the 470mpg dvd and have since enjoyed many hours planning on eventually creating a one-person high mileage commuting vehicle. You are now way ahead with the new fairing design, no surprise there. I’ve been quite inspired by the DVD and I hope you complete this new fairing. I’ll look forward to shopping for a used Helix."  Jerry

“Just had a chance to view the DVD. I shall heartily recommend it to all and sundry.” Paul

“Thank you ever so much for sending me your DVD. I just ran it 3 times and enjoyed every second of it. To me the real upshot is the FIM story” Arnold

"Very nice description of our inverted post-modern design model and the objective importance of aerodynamics in fuel efficiency.  I also liked your priority statement." Jeff
We watched your DVD last night and found it fascinating.  Your subject material was gripping and kept our interest all the way through. Allen
I love your video.  I never understood the screwed up super bike fairings now in use. Wiltz

Streamlining and Fuel Economy Today
The original 470 mpg Streamlined fairing is still available
Watch the development of the Vetter Streamliner
30 Minute Radio Interview on Fuel Economy

Where I explain the things I have learned on AM 1240 KNRY, Cannery Row, Monterey California, April 19, 2008

Posted April 21, 2004

Updated May 28, 2011