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Kiwi woman breaks land speed records


A Christchurch born mother of two, Miriam Macmillan, has become New Zealand's queen of speed after powering into the record books at the famous Bonneville Speed Week

Miriam has become the first Kiwi woman to join Bonneville's elite 200mph club earlier this month after a 204.364 (329kph) run on the salt flats.

Macmillan's record-breaking run was recorded behind the wheel of a modified 2.1-litre, 400hp Honda CRX, and was the culmination of a week-long campaign at Bonneville during which she broke four different class records.

As well as being the first Kiwi woman to earn her 200mph hat at Bonneville, Miriam is only the third New Zealander of either gender to do so (the first was Lincoln Harris, and the second was husband Doug, in 2008 at an average speed of 221 mph). Qualifying for membership of this elite club isn't as simple as exceeding 200mph: the record time is assessed on the basis of the average speed of two timed runs down the course within a specified time period and those runs must break an existing class record as well.

Miriam joined the club running her Honda with a high-performance nitrous oxide fuel mix and special aerodynamic enhancements to the car's nose and underbelly. She smashed the previous record for her class by 28mph (45kph) and the vehicles she outpaced along the way included a Ferrari Enzo, which is one of the world's fastest production road cars.

"Running at over 200mph is hard to describe, but I can tell you it is a real buzz," says Miriam. "You're out there on the big, wide-open salt flats, you build up to speed, and just hang in there hoping that nothing goes wrong!"

"For a 20 year old car it was very well behaved" says Miriam. "It was smooth, stable and handled everything we could throw at it, which was really pleasing. Actually, it had a lot more speed in it, but I had to back off as I was on the redline. I'll definitely be back next year with different gearing to see how fast it really goes."

Miriam's CRX snared four different records at Bonneville by running the car on different types of fuel, and with two different stages of nose and underside aerodynamic modification. Her results were a testament to the reliability of Honda engines and the hard work of the Hondata team, who ran two cars on the salt for Speedweek.

Miriam, 40, was born in Christchurch and grew up in Whangarei. After time in the RNZAF she trained as a school teacher at the Dunedin College of Education, and lived and worked in Dunedin before moving to Los Angeles in 2000.

Vehicle specs:

Car 1990 CRX
Tyres 24" Goodyear Front Runners
Engine Honda K20 engine bored to 2.1 litres
Intake Kinsler individual throttle bodies
Power 290hp at 9600rpm, 400hp with nitrous oxide
Brakes Integra Type R + Simpson Parachute
Gears Stock Honda gear ratios
Differential Quaife
Fabrication AfterHours Automotive

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