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Salt Shakers - Bonneville 2007

What a strange feeling to go to Bonneville for the first time in many years and not be racing a car. Well, that’s what I thought, but when I arrived on the salt after an 800-mile drive from Los Angeles, the team of Van Blarcom and Gilmore, who now run the Thacker and Shine Roadster, made all things good by recording the car’s best-ever speed of 210.9 mph.


Steve Van Blarcom and his team are now running the Thacker and Shine Roadster-my old car. Sadly, they lost the record to Donny Cummins. Qualified to take it back at 210.9 but failed to back it up. Next year boys.

 

That’s the good news. The bad is that we lost the D/BSTR record to our friend Donny Cummins and Jon Beck Racing who bumped it to 208.80 mph. Donny is, of course, the grandson of the Don Cummins of Larsen & Cummins fame who set many a record at the salt flats. The very next day Steve Van Blarcom qualified for the record with his 210 run. Unfortunately, however, the transmission was going away and he failed to back it up on the return run. Shame because he and his team had driven out from Connecticut—more than 2000 miles--and when you’re RV is doing only 5 mpg and gas is three bucks a gallon you can calculate the cost of just getting to Bonneville. And that’s not including the cost of the two weeks it takes to do the event.


This stretched Cadillac XLR sports car was awesome. Driven by Bob Johnson, it had turbo Caddy power

 

Somebody spending large to be at the lakes is George Poteet. This year, he was involved with at least five race cars. There’s the new Poteet & Main Speed Demon streamliner which is powered by a 180-inch Mopar four cylinder that at the time of writing had gone 320 mph on its first-ever outing. Next on the rosta is the Troy Trepanier-built ’69 Barracuda Blowfish that this year bumped the F/BFCC record from 255.412 mph to 269 mph. Troy told me the motor is about topped out now and they might make the move to V8 power.  My personal favorite is the  ’61 Ford Starliner which just looks so cooool. It went 204 mph. There’s also an unblown Gas Roadster that various people seemed to be driving including Rick Love of the Vintage Air company. It was like the company hack. Actually the company hack for what is known as Camel Toe Racing was actually a real, live camel. And, it didn’t look outta place on the salt.


 One of several cars campaigned under George Poteet's Cameltoe Racing  Team was this nice Deuce Roadster running in G/Gas Roadster. It ran a  best of 174 when I was there.


The Nash and Suckling MG wagon was running about 180 mph making licensing passes. They were aiming for 230 mph. The MG has a 765 horsepower Roush-Ford V8. Actually it's a NASCAR motor with slide injection--loud too!  That's Andy Green on the left.


Likewise, a long way from home was the British team of Daniel Nash and Jonathan Suckling. Daniel and Jonathan purchased the SO-CAL-built MG ZT-T wagon from the defunct MG Rover Group with plans to race it. They shipped the car to Bonneville and turned up with a small tool kit and when I left were busy on their way to getting their 200 mph licenses. Kiwi Steve Davies, who built the car at SO-CAL, felt that the aero work they had done and a class change could see them in the record books. In October they plan to bring the 1997 MGF over as well and give that a go. You’ve got to admire their tenacity. Racing at Bonneville is not easy and definitely not easy from England. 


You get a lot of weird stuff on the salt and this was by far the weirdest. And, he was driving it on the street. The car's Ok but man  that's an ugly wife in the back!


Some people don't like '35 Coupe but I do and this one was way cool with Chrysler Hemi power.  All that salt could rot your dream away  though. The Deuce Roadster in the background was driven by a girl

 

Another Brit, well, a Scot actually, regularly running the lake is Shug Hanchard and his wife Irene under the So What Speed Shop banner. They had a couple of cars, as usual, but I only saw one run in their Model A-powered ’28 Roadster with a speed of 94.585 mph.

Also on the salt but not running was World’s Fastest Man Andy Green. Andy was there with the JCB team the week before Speed Week testing tires. Tires are a big problem for Bonneville racers as there just aren’t any 400 mph tires being made. Most guys are running on 30-year-old rubber or bare aluminum rims. However, Goodyear engineers were there with JCB and one hopes that they’ll make a tire because Andy wants to go 400 mph in the DieselMax.


The motor-I guess-of the Ohio State hydrogen-powered streamliner.  It went 314 mph the last time I looked. The SCTA-BNI boys made them  pit well away from everybody else in case the whole thing blew up- smart move. Nevertheless,  I think we'll see a lot more alternative fuel vehicles breaking records.

 

An alternative fuel-powered car at Bonneville was the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999. The fuel cell car - a collaboratively engineered racer with Ballard, Roush and Ohio State University - was one of two vehicles Ford's fuel cell research team helped prepare to set world land speed records. Ford researchers also worked with Ohio State University student engineers on its Buckeye Bullet 2, a fuel cell-powered racer that will compete for a similar world record in the unlimited class category. The liner managed only about 149 when I was there but the Fusion went 161 mph in the only run I saw it make. Not bad for a first time out. 


The crew of the TLC show American Hot Rod, films the pits of Boyd Coddington's first foray onto the salt. Boyd's wife Jo was driving the blown GM Ecotec-powered Roadster. Last time I looked she hit 163 on a qualifying pass.

A new team on the salt for the first time ever was that of Boyd “American Hot Rod” Coddington running under the Amsoil banner. Boyd’s wife Jo was driving a GM Ecotec-powered  ’27 T roadster in the G/Blown Gas Modified Roadster class. On a licensing pass she managed 163.037 mph.


18 wheelers are not particularly welcomed on the salt-they smack too much of big money for most lakes racers, however, Boyd can't help but look cool.

 

Sadly, a short, wet and at the end muddy course prevented a lot of the really fast streamliners from showing up this year. So to get the fastest speed of the meet you have to go to www.scta-bni.org. Meanwhile, 2008 will be the 60th continuous running of Speed Week and you can bet drcrewview.com be there.

Story & Photos: Tony Thacker

 


There's something for everybody at Bonneville even rusty old bodies-and they were sold! 

 
 
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