Bonneville Speed Week – Approaching Fast
Even though the last couple of years have been difficult ones as far as racing at Bonneville (2014-2015 saw no SCTA racing due to weather and salt conditions), 2016 proved to be a milestone of success at the Salt Flats. It could be that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but whatever the reason there was a record number of registered racecars for the 2016 year. This naturally gets us revved up for Bonneville here in a few weeks as the SCTA presents Bonneville Speed Week 2017 which will run August 12-18.
According to a recent bulletin provided by the SCTA, the salt is really good this year for Bonneville Speed Week and there is more of it. It was recently announced racing will be held on four courses this year, up from three last year.
Salt conditions last summer weren’t the best, but it was sustainable enough for racing. For the big league speeders, the vehicles that travel 300 and 400 mph there simply wasn’t enough course length for some of them to work with, and a few decided to sit it out. The long course had to shift left or right a couple of times in order to seek out better-groomed salt. Others showed up for a shake down to test and tune their vehicles, but the advantage this year was to the smaller race vehicles. The 100-200mph vehicles ran fast and furious this year on the short course that was set up.
Last summer ten drivers made it into the 200mph club by setting records in their respective classes. But things got a lot faster. Driver Danny Thompson son of legendary racer Mickey Thompson made it into the elite 400mph club with the reincarnated Challenger II. His official speed that week was a leisurely 406.769 mph. Thompson has plans for much bigger speed numbers this year and has been working feverishly getting the car prepped for a shot at 500mph. George Poteet and the newly minted Speed Demon has been the fastest vehicle on the salt for the last several years. The Speed Demon’s official averaged run last summer was 416.511 mph, making it the fastest vehicle of the 2016 meet. Besides the prestigious speed club entrants, sixty-eight vehicle records were made last summer while eighty-one motorcycle records were made.
Speaking of the Speed Demon, Poteet will bring not one but two cars to the salt this year. While the streamliner will seek to crack the 500mph barrier, Poteet’s famous “Blow Fish” Plymouth Barracuda will make runs with a fresh bullet. Alan Johnson and “Team Stupidbaker” make their return with Paul and Betty Gilliam’s orange ’53 Stude. Johnson will also be bringing David and Debbie Pilgrim’s ’54 Chevy pickup. Powered by a four-turbocharged Duramax Diesel, this truck is literally a work of art. The team will take it through shakedown runs and go from there.
Click here for the dizzying array of official SCTA classes. We will be back late-August with the photo highlights from the Bonneville Speed Week 2017. For now, enjoy some of the best images of the 2016 event.