Speed Week – 2009

Here are the galleries of images we took during this years Speed Week.

I’ve sorted the galleries into categories so you can locate the type of vehicles you’re interested in.  As usual, there was just as much eye candy brought by spectators as there was racing.

Remember, this is by no means a complete representation.  It’s just a drop in the bucket.  It’s not easy to track down several hundred cars, located anywhere in about 20 square miles.  Darn things just wont stay still..

 I’ve been heading to Bonneville each year for a while now.   This year, rather than a straight through drive,  I thought we would head out a little early, and take a look around as we went, documenting a few of the things we always blasted past previously.  As an additional activity (like I don’t have enough to do), I thought we should take a few pictures and document some of the rest stops along the way, and a few other things of interest to possibly convince a few of you to make the trip.  Obviously, most of our route is mainly of interest to Canadians who would take the same route, but, it is still valid for many from Montana, Idaho using Interstate 15.

 ON THE SALT-DAY 1 :  The sun is finally breaking through, the temperature rising, and we are right on track for an early afternoon arrival.  We arrive more or less intact and on schedule.  Get the trailer set up, unload the quads etc. and crack open some beer, enjoy the scenery, the neighbours, the cars and the warm air.  Unfortunately, the warm air was not to last too long as once again, the rain made an appearance.  All we can do is hope and hunker down for the night..

Unload Trailer

  DAY TWO, starts out poorly.  The sky is overcast, but the salt is solid under foot.  Once we’ve got cleaned up and things comfortable,  find the truck wont start.  We go for breakfast, and spent a couple hours running around trying to resolve the trouble. see Trip Trouble

Bonneville Geography Lesson:  There are a few key locations paramount to navigating Bonneville.  All things Bonneville begin at ‘The Bend in the Road’. 

The ‘Bend in the Road’ is an area defined by a corner in the asphalt, about a mile off the interstate, and immediately beyond the ‘Salt Flats Cafe’, that runs the length of the asphalt leading to the end of the road, where you can park, camp, set up your trailer, RV, Bus, or what ever else you brought to provide accommodations. 


The ‘Salt Flats Cafe’, located just off the interstate, immediately before the bend in the road, is a family run facility which has existed for as long as most people attending can remember.  It serves as many things besides a great little restaurant serving great American and Mexican food at great prices, that some how magically always get rounded down to the nearest dollar. 

Salt Flats Cafe view

 It is a study in the history of Bonneville.  Entering the restaurant you are flooded with the history that permiates every nook and cranny. 

Salt Flats Cafe - history

It is something of a step back in time.  While not a retro look, much evidence exists of things in the past, the cars and the crews that have visited, and monetary examples from around the globe contributed by visitors.  An eclectic blend of Americana and Mexican decor.   It is a meeting place, source of fuel, washrooms, showers, food, drink, and more.

Salt Flats Cafe-Tex Mex Decor

The ‘End of the Road’, is an actual place, just a few miles beyond  the Bend in the Road, and  familiar to those that frequent Bonneville.  The ‘End of the Road’ is located at the end of a length of pavement, extending along the  side of the Bend in the Road, that eventually falls off, giving way to the salt. 

Now, back to the saga..  I meet up with a few of the fellow BNI members taking care of running the entrance to the salt and pass along the details of the truck trouble.  While chatting, one of the little bright spots of the trip occurs.  One of the guys has his car hauler there, full of things he’s looking to sell.  Mixed in I find a set of 4 used Craigar S/S rims with tires that will work perfectly on the Model A Pickup Project


  We very quickly make a deal and over a couple hours, I manage to haul these on the quad, back to the trailer one at a time.

 With the break down of the pack mule quad, see Trip Trouble, we are down to one single seater quad to make do with.   Well, get my big old self on there, and get Reggie on behind me, which is a bit of a tough go as it really is a single seater, with precious little in the way of seat, or rear fenders to sit on.  None the less, fit on we do and off we go.  Not having the pack mule, we can’t take the sun shelter with us, or many of the other ‘survival’ items normally required.   A couple miles away from the trailer, I realized I hadn’t put any sun screen on.  Anxious to get to the salt, I quickly put it out of mind thinking it’s fairly overcast, and we wont be that long.  This is a lesson I have learned in the past.  I can only assume between age and enthusiasm to get SOME time in on the first day, out weighted my common sense and my experience as I would later pay for this.  We manage to get about 3 hours on the salt, mainly around the start line for our first day of the event. Head off the salt at the end of the day looking a little red, but not too bad as I had on jeans.  Grab a meal at the Salt Flats Café, drink a few cool ones and relax for tomorrow. Well, we can only hope it will be better.

 DAY THREE.  Well, it’s finally here.  The weather has cleared right up, and the temperature is back to normal, with the promise of a good day on the salt.   By the time everything is ready to rock, it’s about 11am.  The weather station confirms the conditions.  Notice the daily high temp.  This is when the sun hits the sensor.  More to come on that topic..

11am temp

As we had already spent some time at the start line, it was time to head for the pit area about 7 miles away, and try to get some shots of the tech area, and things NOT moving at 200mph.  Now, in case you haven’t picked up on it already, SUN is your friend, and your enemy when on the salt.  It is wonderful in that it makes it very plesant, and the heat, seems somewhat subdued by the cool moisture laying just under the salt surface.  It’s sort of like a big swamp cooler.  There are two down sides to the sun & salt combination.  First, the salt acts as a big reflector, essentially doubling the sun exposure.  As any repeat visitor to the salt will testify, you WILL get sun burnt, and in the most unusual places.  We’re used to the sun coming from the top down.  We’re not so well prepared for sun from the bottom up.  Areas that have seldom seen the sun, will now get an over exposure of it.  Under the nose, under the chin, and up your shorts.  BNI staff at the start line will often tell that they have even sunburnt the INSIDE of their noses.  That my friends is not a plesant prospect.  The other issue is the sun intensity.  You have likely heard of ‘Snow Blindness’ in northern climates due to the additional brightness due to reflected sun.  Well, the same issue exists here.  REALLY GOOD sunglasses are no just a requirement, they are MANDITORY.  The LCD screen on my HD camera is impossible to see through my sun glasses, so down they must come to see my view finder.  Within 30 seconds, the stinging will start, if you’re silly enough to keep them down much longer, the needles will start to sting your eyes and the tearing starts.  As more of my luck would have it, I managed to break my sun glasses bright and early at the start of this day.  Fortunately, a vendor was selling really great blue blocker shades with a 400uv rating for around the $20 mark.  Problem solved.

Finally managing to get some of the sights and sounds captured.  Note the stylish new shades 🙂

Pictures and new shades

The Tech Inspection area, all 10 lanes of it, is ALWAYS busy.  It’s a great place to get up close and personal with the cars as long as you stay out of the way of the officials, and don’t ‘touch’ anything.  Mind you, the owners, drivers, crew (often the same person) are right there and can usually spare a little time to answer a question or share a thought.  It’s a slow process making sure a car meets all the safety requirements, which is the Number 1 mandate.  Your fellow racers will make sure you meet the ‘other’ requirements as you’ll be under the hawk eye if you qualify for a record, especially if it is one they hold or are competing for.

Tech Inspection

I managed to find myself a little spot of shade behind the ‘Save the Salt’ trailer, which is important as I know all too well that even despite sun screens, you’re likely to get a little roasting done.

Save the Salt shade

Lots of good pictures obtained while people and vehicles are waiting in the line up.  Not uncommon to see a few film crews wandering around, working on a movie or documentary relating to Land Speed racing.  Various local stations, or specialty channels like TSN and SPEED can often be found shooting as well.  My interests being to learn and see, I even find a little time to have some conversations, get advice, and stick my nose under a few hoods to see how someone has solved a problem.   

Nose under hood

 To wrap up the day, I set up on the track side of the pits and get a few shots of vehicles at speed.  I haven’t had a chance to review these yet, but, I’m hoping that with the new HD cameras, there will be enough detail to zoom in and have a decent look at the cars as they pass.  If you are going to try this, a good tripod is a must.  Special care must be taken when leveling it as you will be panning 180 degrees as the cars pass by about 1/4 mile away traversing about a 2 mile distance in a matter of seconds.   Then zoom in, and ANY jiggle or off level will result in a complete loss of the car, and even the horizon for we mere mortals.  What is amazing is that when a really good run is occuring, you can hear it, literally ‘a mile away’.  You’ll notice every ear in the pits perk, and heads turn to watch as greased lightning passes the mile long pit area in a blink.  The sound, not of engine under full load, but of an engine at TOP RPM, maximum speed, ripping its lungs out trying to find another few revs to get that next 1/10th, add in the doppler effect and you have a symphony of sounds you’ve never heard on the street or the strip.

It’s amazing just how many poor shots of high speed passes I got..  I found something wrong with just about all of them.  But, here is at least 1 high speed pass at the tall end of the course. 

If the autoplay doesn’t work, try this link:  flying-mile-s

Well, that’s about it for the day in the pits.  Must head off the salt, get cleaned up, cooled down, fed and watered (er something).

Cool at end of day

Fortunately, being a desert made of salt, the temperatures cool down as evening falls.  There is a great sunset most nights as the sun drops behind the mountains to the west.  You’ll notice the jacket on to keep away the chills partially as a result of the sun burn received despite the sun blocker (obviously not enough), and the dropping temperature.  Even Reggie, despite being the consumate tanner, has managed to add a little red shading to her brown skin.

Reggie tan

DAY 4.   The good weather is holding, and a little higher temp than yesterday.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Note to Self, be sure to stay in the shade as much as possible.  Off we go for another full day on the salt.  The demon tanner assures me she will be fine, despite my remarks and suggestions.  Ya, that hat brim will save you.. NOT!

Demon tanner

Thanks to the false sense of security created by the salt air, you are lulled so that you don’t feel that heat, nor realize you will likely expire in a burn ward at the end of the day.  More time wandering the pits, visiting with teams and crews I found a few flying the Canadian flag, and spent a little time hearing their stories.

Canadian Team

I met up with Randy Pierce of  team ‘Golden Hawk’,  who runs a 300 mph Turbo Diesel streamliner.  Randy was great to talk to and full great advice and the stories his life has given him.  Turns out, it’s the ‘Small World’ syndrome where Randy and I have names common to our lives, but have never managed to cross paths.  The opportunities that chance meetings provide are a large portion of what Bonneville is about.  You will find and learn things when and where you least expect it. 

Team Golden Hawk

Well, I’ve managed to get more top end footage today, and lots of rolling tin shots.  It really is difficult to maintain your focus with so many distractions.

At the end of the day, when you are just relaxing, and the air is cooling down, reality sets in and you realize the impact of another day on the salt, despite your efforts to remain shaded, and lots of sun blocker, you have become a walking space heater.  A look at the weather station tells the whole story..  Notice the temperature inside the trailer.  That my friends means ‘OFF THE SCALE’ or perhaps ‘OFL’ (AWFUL), which amounts to the same thing.  I still haven’t figured out just how hot that is, but, it’s obviously higher than the 51 recorded as the high for the day.

Day 6 temp

 Here is what a couple of days in the shade and sun of the salt flats can do to you if you are not really well prepared and very diligent.  This would be a perfect example of how a lobster feels I’m thinking.

Lobster burn

Fortunately, there is still a large portion of the old bod that has been protected by cloth, and is feeling no pain.. The other areas are some how numbed by the bodies internal  protection system.  Unfortunately, these areas no longer bend as the skin is now drum tight.    Who knew you could burn the top of your feet through those funny woven cloth shoes.  MORE MEDICATION!

DAY 5:  Hard to believe it could continue in this fashion, but it does.  Fortunately, a good selection and supply of beer, I mean ‘medication’ is available from the Salt Flats Service station.  Well, I think I’ve had enough sun.  So, today, the jeans go on to protect the legs from further sun.   I do what is required to survive another day in the salt sun and managed to get our sun shelter out and set up in a great location close to the start line.  It’s another fantastic day weather wise.  Not a cloud to be seen.  The wind is virtually dead calm.  Things are quieting down a bit as the cars that have broken down, or failed to get close to their mark, or, have accomplished what they came to do, are departing.  The cars and bikes still running are those who have already set a record, and are trying to squeeze a little more, or are close and trying to get a little more, or for various other reasons are still trying to get runs in.  The wait at the start line is down to nearly nothing so the cars can make their runs and come back to the start and make another run nearly immediately.   The relative altitude has been in the 6000+ feet above sea level range most of the event.

Now, the nice thing in the initial days is it’s almost over whelming as there is so much happening no matter where you are and where you look.  On the down side, these vehicles tend to be very high strung thoroughbreds.  So, at the start line, on the long course, you’ll find that a few push through’s because the engine is either starving for fuel, or starving for air.   Perhaps the last adjustments and changes pushed the envelope too far.  But, that is the quest for speed.  On the short course, the vehicles tend to be a little less temper mental.  More often than not, starts and runs in fairly quick succession.  The occasional stuttering occurs, but, the engines usually clear out quickly and pull hard.  I make every effort to get some good footage, but it’s difficult without the tripod this day.  We call it an early day as we are wearing down a bit and head back to the trailer about 4:30.  Feeling a little stiff and tight I evaluate the situation and discover that even though I had blue jeans on, I had neglected to put on socks.  The reflected sun managed to find ways to get to my ankles, which are now approaching purple in colour and have swollen substantially.  Fortunately, the medication is working well and I am not too troubled by this. 

I finally get a call from the shop, the truck should be ready tomorrow.  Rapidly running out of money, and feeling that another day of sun on the salt my in fact prove fatal, we decide to head out as soon as we can get the truck back.  Knowing that tomorrow will be an easier pace, we relax around the trailer and admire the nightly fireworks display for the evening.


DAY 6:  Yet another beautiful weather day and hotter still.  An easy pace sets the tone for the day.  Actually manage to sleep in a bit, and then head over to the cafe for a bit to eat.  On return,  get most of the stuff packed into the trailer again, or at least ‘ready’ to be packed up, depending how events pan out.    The afternoon is spent moving the chairs around the trailer so as to remain in the shade.  The weather station shows an outside high of 53.  I got distracted by something and forgot to take a picture of the display.  Despite the temperature, being in the shade, I feel safe shedding my shirt for an hour and then cover up again.  I will discover later this evening that this is all that it took to apply still more ‘red’ to my skin. 

 As the time nears we decide even if off to a late start, we want to hit the road.   It’s 5 pm before we get the truck back, and nearly 6 before we pull out.  On the road we go.  Stop and Go traffic tie ups in Salt Lake take the truck temperature up,  see Trip Trouble. PLEASE, just get me moving.  Finally, after about 30 minutes, traffic starts moving and with the sun down, I make about 250 miles, and shut down for the night in Brigham City Utah.  In the morning after spending a little time, and a little money in the Walmart picking up supplies and those things that are just plain cheaper here than at home we head out.  We make it to Great Falls Montana and decide to stay the night in a motel.  In we go, arrange a room and start getting cleaned up from the past couple days.  Before to long, noticing a rather distasteful odor, I eventually manage to find the source.. It’s US..The last couple days on the salt, the heat, the sweat, the creams and lotions by the bottle and the conglomeration of odors have our cloths nearly standing on their own.  They quickly make their way into a garbage bag.

DAY 7: Well, at least with a bed, an air conditioner, and a shower, one of the best nights sleep I have ever had in a motel is to happen despite everything else.  That makes the day start out on a positive note.  Unfortunately, this is not to last long.  When we go to leave, THE TRUCK WONT START, AGAIN!  see Trip Trouble No other issues occure until back in Canada, when I manage to scrape the side of the trailer on a post at a Husky service station while the attendant stands on the island watching it without warning me.  This all caused by the tight space I must attempt to squeeze in because of the way they have positioned the islands, and another vehicle I’m trying to avoid…  Jeeze, I just want to get home alive..

The rain starts as evening falls, but thankfully, the truck continues to behave its self.  I gradually reduce my speed the closer I get to home, knowing that I’m wound pretty tight and don’t want to become another statistic.  Finally, we arrive, in the rain, in the dark.  Reg stands in the rain and trys to guide me back in with little success as I can hardly see her and can NOT hear her.  Enough!  I shut it down right there.  Trailer MoRe or LeSs in the drive and the truck on the street.

Now, you would think this would be the end of this years story.  But, the next morning, wanting to get the trailer stowed away, when attempting to start the truck, you know it, it refuses to start.  see Trip Trouble

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