Bonneville – (or, what to bring if you have too much money!)

Ferrari Enzo at Bonneville Salt FlatsBonneville Speed Week 2011 was held August 13-19 at the famed Bonneville Speedway salt flats in Utah. Every August, the Southern California Timing Association and Bonneville Nationals Inc. organize Speed Week, which attracts several hundred drivers to compete to set highest speed in a range of categories.

Bonneville Speed Week consists of six days of racing, weather and conditions permitting, with entrants from all parts of the globe all seeking the maximum speed out of their vehicle. All vehicles are allowed to run every day, i.e no special days for motorcycles or cars. The Bonneville Speedway salt flats are located 88 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. The spectacular scenery and racing conditions at Bonneville make it one of the most popular areas in the world for speed.

Historically, the speedway was marked out by the Utah Department of Transportation at the start of each summer. Originally, two tracks were prepared; a 10 mile long straightway for speed trials and an oval or circular track for distance runs, which was typically between 10 and 12 miles (16 and 19 km) long depending on the condition of the salt surface.

Since the 1990s, track preparations have been the responsibility of the event organizers. Days or weeks in advance, the track preparers identify an area best suited for their track layouts and begin grading the tracks. Surveyors are brought in to survey the timing trap distances. A day before racing begins, the track markers are added.

Originally, the straightway was marked with a broad black line down its center. This was eventually changed to lines down either side, as the center line wore out too quickly. As the costs for painting the lines has gone up, organizations have switched to flags and cones as track markers. The last event to use black lines was the 2009 Bonneville Speed Week.

Numerous land speed records in various vehicle categories and classes have been set on the Bonneville speed way. In 1960, Mickey Thompson became the first American to break the 400 mph barrier, hitting 406.60 mph and surpassing John Cobb’s 1947 one-way Land speed record of 403 mph. Other notable Bonneville speed records include Sir Malcolm Campbell’s 1935 run to 301.129 in the famous Blue Bird and Craig Breedlove’s 600.601 record driving the Spirit of America – Sonic One in 1965.

The 2011 edition of Bonneville Speed Week saw 566 entries consisting of 368 cars and 198 motorcycles. There were 18 new members of the 2 Club–200 mph–and seven new members broke into the Chapter 3 Club–300 mph and above. Notable Speed Week entries included Richard Losee’s twin-turbo Ferrari Enzo, the 1969 Plymouth Barracuda ‘Blowfish’ and Charlie Nearburg’s 379.606 mph Spirt of Rett.

2 responses to “Bonneville – (or, what to bring if you have too much money!)

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