The Staff of Motorsport Marketing
The Staff of Motorsport Marketing Writer
10/11/17 1:47 p.m.


Story and Photos by Jim Luning

For a car nut of any sort, the Salt Flats of Wendover, Utah–and specifically Speed Week at Bonneville–are bucket-list destinations. The words “Bonneville” and “Salt Flats” instantly conjure images of cars with wild shapes, insane horsepower and equally dizzying speeds. The Bonneville Salt Flats have a certain mystery and allure for anyone who’s never been there, but once you do go, you get it.

And what you get is the last bastion of racing, where the only reward for being the fastest is your name on a trophy. There are no corporate sponsors, no drivers changing hats, and no one slugging down energy drinks during interviews. There is no winner’s circle.

You will see open pits you can stroll through. Mechanics and drivers–often that’s the same person–are willing to take a moment to answer a question or talk about that flathead Ford stuffed into a semi-familiar shape.

You’ll absorb the heat of the air, the cool of the salt, the smell of the race gas. The soundtrack is the chatter of announcers over the CB radios.

Off in the distance will be a quickly approaching dot skimming across the salt followed by the growl of its engine as it passes you by at Mile 3. As one fellow put it, “It’s like camping on the moon with your hotrod.”

The range of participants and technology is just as diverse as the cars themselves. On one end, there’s the retired GM engineer in a beard and bib overalls doing long division in the salt to get more turbo boost on his ’32 coupe with a straight-eight. On the other end, you have a car with a built-in server sending information to the tuner’s laptop via Wi-Fi at the starting line. Lee Sicilio’s 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona is the latter.

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z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/11/17 1:51 p.m.

EDIT

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
10/11/17 1:54 p.m.

In reply to z31maniac :

Which links are broken?

z31maniac
z31maniac MegaDork
10/11/17 2:46 p.m.

"Read the rest of the story" was originally returning a 404 error for me.

 

Now it seems to be working. Which is good, I wanted to read the rest of the story. :)

Ed Higginbotham
Ed Higginbotham Associate Editor
10/11/17 2:51 p.m.

Glad it fixed itself. Not sure what happened there. Enjoy!

drsmooth
drsmooth HalfDork
10/11/17 3:10 p.m.

HUSS! HUSS! HUSS! HUSS!

84FSP
84FSP Dork
10/11/17 3:31 p.m.

Very cool read, exactly why this is my favorite temple of gear.  1,800hp to the flywheel and it runs for more than a 1/4 mile at a time.  Built by a GRM dude who picked it up on the cheap and built it by hand.

This is on my gear head bucket list near Pikes Peak and I'm most conflicted as it seems like a great place to run one of my toys rather than be a spectator...  I did manage to check off running the Nurburgring last year and attending the Singapore F1 night race the year before. 

Progress is slow but enjoyable. 

alfadriver
alfadriver MegaDork
10/11/17 6:20 p.m.

In reply to 84FSP :

If you really want to run at Bonneville, check the rules and requirements.  Without a doubt, you will find a class to run your car in- that's not the issue.  It's more about what the safety requirements are for the class you want to run in.

Like the featured car probably has a NHRA cage wrapped around the driver.  Seems like most cars that can clear 200mph are like that.

Still, I've never been anywhere else where creativity and skill are celebrated with so many cool cars.  The Challenge is awesome, no doubt.  But this is quite different.  

When you have a chance to see a car streak by at 400mph, it's pretty special.

Toebra
Toebra HalfDork
10/11/17 10:49 p.m.

That is one of my favorite issues of the mag.  I always dug the wing cars, and that one is really something.  Guy I got my 914 from iss a big Mopar guy.  He had some cool cars, a couple of Superbirds and a couple Daytonas, a hemi Roadrunner convertible that paid for his house.  He still has a decent number of cars, but does not have to rent space to store them.

thatsnowinnebago
thatsnowinnebago SuperDork
10/12/17 12:33 p.m.

How is the torque figure so low? I'd think an engine making 1800hp at 7200 rpm would come with a lot more than 490 torques. What am I missing?

efahl
efahl New Reader
10/12/17 12:38 p.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago :

Correctomundo, 1800/7200*5252 = 1313 lb-ft torque at 7200 RPM.  That 490@4000 is waaaay below the torque peak.

Mark_42
Mark_42 New Reader
10/12/17 2:21 p.m.

We took our 2015 Subaru Outback with a huge (20 cu. ft. Sears) rooftop carrier on top of it out there on the salt.

With 4 of us in the car, it started feeling light at about 94 MPH - so I said "I'm going to back off". My wife and kids all said "Good idea". I had been to about 101 MPH on asphalt in another place along our cross country trip. The salt is a bit sketchy, like driving on wet sand - a feeling similar to when your car is starting to hydroplane on a wet racetrack.

The salt is damp in places - and it sticks all over the bottom & fender wells of the car. Luckily we drove about 4 hours in the rain a couple of days later. Pressure washing with fresh water made me feel better about it.

It's quite an experience. I hope to someday go back there with my 1st Ge. MR2 and get just over 100 MPH.
Maybe more if I can rebuild the car for the purpose.

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
10/12/17 2:32 p.m.

"My love of speed is like a truck- BERSERKER!"

"My nitro V-8 is ticking tock-BERSERKER!"

"Breaking records is sucking berk-BERSERKER!"

 

Feedyurhed
Feedyurhed SuperDork
10/15/17 6:42 a.m.

I will get out there one day. It's on my list.

Spoolpigeon
Spoolpigeon PowerDork
10/15/17 3:23 p.m.

At first I thought the title said “Bonneville Berkleyer”. 

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