ROGERSVILLE — Hitting 176 mph on a motorcycle might be about average for the road course at Talladega Superspeedway, but it’s quite extreme for Highway 11-W in Rogersville.
Early Sunday morning, Rogersville police arrested Rusty Shane Webb, 26, 114 Lipe Lane, Rogersville, for allegedly hitting 176 mph while fleeing an attempted traffic stop.
Arresting Officer Travis Fields told the Times-News Monday he clocked Webb at 135 mph during a high-speed pursuit before losing contact.
After his arrest, however, Webb allegedly admitted to hitting 176 mph on a 2003 Yamaha. Webb also told police he’d built to race on the Talladega, Ala., road course next month.
Webb’s racing plans have been derailed, as the motorcycle has been impounded — and if Rogersville police have their way, will be seized permanently. If Webb had put a bit more gasoline in the tank, however, he’d probably still have his racer.
Fields said Monday that motorcycle racing on Highway 11-W is becoming a big problem in Rogersville, as it is in other parts of the county. Young adults and juveniles congregate in parking lots at Park Boulevard, and when they think there aren’t any police around, motorcyclists race on 11-W between the Park Boulevard and Route 70 intersections.
“It becoming a spectator sport, and they’ve got a big crowd of kids and young adults hanging out there,” Fields said. “Somebody has a scanner in the parking lot and is apparently tipping the racers off to our whereabouts. When they think we’re not around they get out on the four-lane and race.
“We started realizing they know where we’re at, so now we’re using different frequencies and taking steps to better conceal our whereabouts.”
Around 1 a.m. Sunday, Fields decided to approach the Park Boulevard intersection from the east in hopes of catching some racers. Fields said he observed an orange Yamaha popping a wheelie in the eastbound lane.
“As his front wheel touched the road I clocked him at 81 mph in a 55 mph zone, so I turned right on him, hit the blue lights and started to pursue him,” Fields said. “I could hear him accelerate, and I knew he wasn’t going to stop. Mount Carmel (police) happened to be taking someone to jail and topped a hill right before you get to Route 70 and clocked him at 134 mph.
“I was coming down the hill at Metro (Auto Group), and I was doing right at 135 mph, and he was running off and leaving me pretty good, so he had to be doing between 150 and 170 right there.”
Fields lost the motorcycle as it approached Surgoinsville. He found out later that the bike ran out of gas near the Surgoinsville Market at the Carters Valley Road intersection.
A short time later a resident of the nearby Whispering Oaks subdivision called 911 to report a suspicious person walking in the road. When Surgoinsville police arrived they found Webb hiding in the weeds near the road.
Police found the motorcycle hidden in weeds not far away.
“I kept a visual on him right until he topped the hill at the Surgoinsville Market,” Fields said. “I was still a good way behind him, and when I topped the hill at the same location he was gone. (After Webb’s arrest) he told me that right before he got to Surgoinsville Market the bike started sputtering, his low on fuel light was on, and he knew he ran out of gas.
“That’s the only reason he stopped. If he had gas I’d have probably never seen him again.”
Webb was charged with felony evading arrest, no insurance and speeding 176 mph in a 55 mph zone. The 176 mph charge was based on Webb’s own comments.
“He pretty much admitted to everything,” Fields said. “He said he’s got a digital readout on his motorcycle, and he said he looked down at it and it read 176 mph. He had to be doing close to that because when I was doing 135 he was running off and leaving me.
“He said he built that bike to race and he was going to Talladega next month, and this was the first time he’d had it out on the road since he built it.”
Fields said he will confer with the attorney general’s office, but he intends to pursue permanent seizure of the bike. Webb was released from the Hawkins County Jail on $5,000 bond and is scheduled for arraignment on July 9.