Bonneville Speed Week, 2009


John Thompson, a friend of mine from college and high school days, called me from Georgia one night and asked if I wanted to go to Bonneville with him and some of his buddies. Why not? It had been on our bucket lists since high school.


I collected way too many pictures and, in my usual unorganized way, I'm going to share way too many pictures with you. Some day I'm going to have to learn to edit. Anyhow, click the dates to go to the pictures.


August 6 We met in Salt Lake City, picked up some supplies at Wal-Mart, and headed west to Wendover. What we hadn t counted on was turning an easy two hour drive into a six hour ordeal with a bit of a detour up to a copper mine. First we were delayed by an armed police chase that blocked off I-80. Then an accident slowed things down. Then a forest fire that smoked out visibility and threatened to close the highway. Then the winds and dust kicked up and we could hardly keep the car on the road, to say nothing of dust and salt whiteouts. But we did get there. We tried to get to the salt, but the weather had it closed. Oh well. A few pictures and off to Wendover we went. I suppose I should mention that I managed to collect more dust on my digital camera sensor than ever before and I didn't discover until I got back home.


August 7 It was a beauty of a day, except for the threats of rain. Pleasantly cool temperatures characterized the whole week. We spent the first day checking out the pits, tech, and vendors. It didn't take long to discover that Bonneville is extremely flathead intensive.


August 8 Cars started going down the course. We still spent most of the time in the pits. We had the opportunity to check out Nebulous Theorem III, the Costella-Yacoucci streamliner powered by a Jim Stevens-built seriously modified flathead. Rick Yacoucci absolutely shattered both the gas and fuel unblown flathead streamliner records before the week was over. They bested the previous fuel record held by the famous Flatfire by about 45mph. It will be interesting to see what it will do with a supercharger.


August 9 This day started out with more time in the pits. Got more looks at flatheads and hung around the Bobby Moore/Tom Hanna streamliner. It wasn't actually finished and super craftsman Hanna thought the body was still a little wavy, but my socks were blown off! It was still in yellow-green primer and they were only there for a few tests and shakedowns. Eventually we figured out we could get to the starting line, so off we went. The highlight of the day was when Linda and Jerry Wortman invited us ride the chase truck when their '35 coupe with the blown flathead made a run. I finished up the day taking a few shots of Wendover Will welcoming everyone to West Wendover, Nevada. West Wendover has casinos while Wendover, Utah has, well, motels and small town things.


August 10 I managed to get my sorry rump out of bed a tiny bit earlier than I had before and we managed to get out on the salt a bit earlier than previous days. John was always ready, but I'm a sleepyhead. Sometime during the day, I found out the lady with the "Lickity Split" Model A that I'd been taking pictures of was former Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding. I had no idea. After a day on the salt, we stopped at the old Wendover Airfield where heavy bomber crews were trained during WWII, including the folks that dropped the first atomic bombs. Yes, the Enola Gay slept here.


August 11 John finally got me pried out of bed early enough to see some of the record return runs. I have to say, the salt is really something in the morning. Most of my time was spent at the short course where the slower cars (like most flatheads) made their runs. Rick Yacoucci's flathead needed the long course, so I was actually dividing my time.


August 12 Up early again and out on the salt. Tanya Harding set a record in the A and Poteet and Main cracked off a 400mph pass. All week, records were falling like, what? Falling like raindrops doesn't seem right. Anyhow, cool weather and good salt were being very kind.


August 13 Up early again. Three days in a row! Honestly, we just couldn't get enough. Our last day on the salt was highlighted for my when flat32, as he is known on the flathead message boards, let me drive his famous hot rod. The cast aluminum intake manifold was designed and built by him as were the heads and he whipped up an electronic fuel injection system for it. Man, that thing ran sweet! Thanks, Ray. If you want to see more about his flathead, look here.


Well, it was a great week on the salt flats. I can't thank John Thompson enough for the invite. I expect I'll be back one of these days.