Bonneville Speed Week Shoutout at the Salt Flats

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week – Shootout at the Salt Flats

Bonneville is a magical place where you don’t race for money, trophies or points; you race for pride and a chance to add your name to the SCTA Bonneville Speed Week record book. Men and women have been coming to the Bonneville Salt Flats since 1914 to test the limits of man and machine.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel CurveSCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

Located 90 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah, sits 30,000 acres of hard, white salt crust known as the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s a place so flat that people say you can see the curvature of the earth, a place so barren that not even the simplest life forms can exist. Yet every August, racers are drawn here from all around the world for one thing…the quest for speed.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

This year, you could feel the excitement in the air. The salt was in the best condition it’s been in years, and that was great news for all of the participants. August 11-17 was going to be a very memorable SCTA Bonneville Speed Week.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

George Poteet and his appropriately named Speed Demon streamliner had taken home the prestigious Hot Rod Magazine Top Speed of the Meet award for seven consecutive years, but this year the battle for top speed was tougher than ever as five different cars made runs over 400mph: Danny Thompson’s Challenger 2, Poteet’s Speed Demon, Carbonliner, Flashpoint, and the Team Vesco Turbinator.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

While all eyes were on the Speed Demon, Danny Thompson and the Challenger 2 were the sentimental favorites. Why, you ask? Because in August 1968, Thompson’s legendary father, Mickey Thompson, came to Bonneville to break the piston-powered world land speed record in the famed Challenger 2, but it rained and he never got the chance. Last year, Danny finished what his late father started nearly 50 years ago and broke the 400mph barrier in the same streamliner that his dad had built.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

Thompson was going to retire the car last year, but he knew it could go faster. With 2018 marking the 50th anniversary of the Challenger 2, he knew bringing it back to the salt one more time was the right thing to do.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

And he was right. Thompson thrilled the crowd with a run of 446.605mph on Saturday morning and then ran 450.909mph on Sunday to set the AA/FS record at 448.757mph. (The record is the average speed of the two runs.)

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

But in the end it wasn’t Thompson or Poteet with the fastest pass. When the salt settled, it was Dave Spangler and the Team Vesco Turbinator 2 who claimed top speed of the meet with a 463.038mph blast that dethroned the Speed Demon although Poteet still laid claim as the week’s fastest piston-powered car.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

The Streamliners post the fastest speeds, but you will also find roadsters, belly tankers, lakesters, motorcycles, trucks and hot rods competing in hundreds of different classes based on their body style and engine combination. If you can dream it up and build it, there is a class for you at SCTA Bonneville Speed Week. That’s what makes Bonneville so great.

Community and fellowship are also a huge part of the experience. Each night when the sun goes down, the small gambling town of Wendover is overrun with salt-crusted hot rods, and the casino parking lots morph into car shows. You won’t find any trailer queens here, as deck lids and fender wells are caked in the white stuff. It’s a badge of honor really.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel Curve

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week, Fuel CurveBonneville is truly a hot rodder’s paradise, combining history, horsepower, speed and camaraderie. It’s the last place on earth where man and machine can push the limits of automotive ingenuity while carrying on the tradition of hot rodding’s earliest mantra: go faster.

SCTA Bonneville Speed Week Photo Extra!

Growing up just miles from Fremont Drag Strip where his father both worked and raced throughout the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, Marc Gewertz was exposed to the excitement, color, and pageantry of hot rodding at an early age. During junior high, he began taking his Nikon camera to the dragstrip to capture the action and the people behind all those fast cars. With a penchant for being in the right place at the right time, he quickly developed a reputation as being one of rac­ing’s rising young photographic talents.

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