Archive for October, 2010

FLAT OUT

Tuesday, 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.

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SUNDAY DRIVE

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Unleashing Your Inner Racer

Text and Photos by Matt Emery

Have you ever watched a NASCAR race and thought, “I could do that.” Now you can, at least you can strap yourself into a real racecar and take to a real racetrack for some hot laps.

Recently, I was asked to attend a driving class at the new Irwindale raceway (Technically speaking, it’s the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale) where the L.A. Racing Experience, will put you into an actual racecar and let you loose on the banked ½-mile track.

The first step is a classroom session where the instructor, in this case David Bremer, went over the do’s and don’ts of driving a ½-mile track, including how not to put the car into the wall. Bremer is an active racer who has taken many driving classes himself so he knows what to say and what is important for beginning drivers to know. He and the entire L.A. Racing crew stressed safety, how to keep out of the wall, what to do if the radio failed and how to pass and be passed.

Once the classroom stuff was over, Bremer took us out to the paddock where he showed us how to get in and out of the car (Don’t laugh. It’s not all that easy to get into a fully caged car when the doors don’t open) as well as the startup procedure for the cars and various other things. After that, they took us to the track where they gave us driving suits (which come in L, XL and thankfully, “Editor”), full faced helmets and told us which car to get into. They have shifter and automatic cars, so there isn’t a problem if you don’t have good shifting skills, just choose the automatic version. After that, it was onto the track to run some hot laps. Needless to say, I had fun.

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