October 26th, 2010

The 62nd Annual Bonneville Speed Week

Text and Photos by Matt Emery

There are few places on Earth like the Bonneville Salt Flats. The first time that you step out onto the salt, the first thing that hits you is how immense the place is. There are mountains bordering the western edge, but when looking to the north and east, the flat, white expanse seems to go on forever. It’s been said that the salt actually extends, albeit under dirt, all the way to the Great Salt Lake, which is over 100 miles to the east.

For over 60 years, speed enthusiasts have stood on that salt and eyed the far away horizon, then they have strapped themselves into their vehicles, some stock and some specially built, pointed them at that horizon and then pushed that vehicle and themselves to the limit. If you asked 50 different competitors why they do it, you will probably get 50 different answers. Some may say it’s for the glory, or the notoriety or even for the thrill of literally laying your life on the line, but we think that the reason is simple: the quest for speed, and to be acknowledged as the fastest person on earth.

Located just outside Wendover, Utah/West Wendover, Nev. (we’ll explain later), the salt is like nowhere else in the world; not in terms of geology but of one of potential fun. Lakes racing is flat out, old-time fun and thousands of racers descended upon Bonneville Salt Flat International Raceway on August 14-20, 2010 for the 62nd Bonneville Speed Week. Put on by the SCTA, Speed Week is a ritual of fast times, good times and seemingly endless time waiting around for open lanes and other competitors to get moving.

As with years past, the weather played a part of the event as rain did fall occasionally throughout the week, but having the opportunity to see the huge black clouds moving over the terrain and right for you was awe inspiring. The winds we could have done without, though.

Spectating at an even like Bonneville requires good eyes, though. The lanes are spread out from the starting area like spokes in a wheel, But even with the long course, which is situated the “closest”, those spokes are about ¼-mile away from the pit lane and viewing area.

You can get all of the results and times from the SCTA website (www.scta-bni.org (http://www NULL.scta-bni NULL.org)), but rest assured there was a class for virtually whatever you have sitting in your garage. There are some safety issues that you need to adhere to, but lakes racing is one form of competition that everybody can join in. If you have 70 grand into a hot rod or muscle car that’s just begging to be let loose, take a look at lakes racing. You might find the perfect outlet for that racy feeling you have. The SCTA website has all of the technical information you need to decide which class you fit into.

Oh, and what’s with the twin city’s of Wendover and West Wendover? Yep, the state line runs between the town, which means that the hotels on the Nevada side has casino’s while the Utah side has, well… it has Utah. We hope this information will allow you to choose wisely when booking a room.

There are actually 3 courses on the Bonneville salt: the long course is for the really fast cars while the others are for slower cars and license qualifying runs.

The Southern California Timing Association runs a great race, and have been doing it since the very beginning of lakes racing.

Bonneville racing may not be rocket science, but don’t tell these guys. The Rocket Science Engineering 1934 Ford roadster, driven by virtually everybody on the team, features a 368ci Chevy engine.

The designations affixed to the cars, in this case A/BFMS designates this car running in the class A=big engine, B=blown, F=fuel, M=modified and the S=sports. This 1984 Pontiac from Motorhead Racing features a 467ci Chevy and is driven by owner Fred Guljas.

Bonneville and land speed racing may be the last bastian for those with bigger dreams than bank accounts to still compete with the best of them. No matter what you have in your garage, there is probably a class for it at Bonneville.

The competition is stiff for the bikes, and classes run everywhere from 50cc to over 1000. We thought that this Triumph was beautiful, though we apologise for not getting the riders name (we were a little afraid of him). Anybody who looks like that and rides a bike with no padding on the saddle is nobody we wanted to mess with.

Is this thing cool or what? Competing in the Unblown Gas Competition Coupe and Sedan’s X class is the “Bonneville Bombshell.” Sporting a Buick Straight 8, driver and owner Jeff Brock made the trek out from Abiquiu, New Mexico.

Reportedly owned by the late, legendary Don Vesco, the Team Vesco streamliner is powered by an un-blown 406ci Chevy engine and is now driven by Dave Spangler.


One Response to “FLAT OUT”

  1. SuperCarJay (http://www NULL.motortopia NULL.com/SuperCarJay) says:

    Great Event! I was there for the first time @ Speed Week. I have since attended World of Speed, Mike Cook’s Invitational and the World Finals. Nice overview. What happened to your Streamliner coverage. You missed most of the “big” action. I’ll help you out in 2011! Beware, I have Salt Fever!

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