BONNEVILLE SPEED WEEK
OUR MAN IN THE USA, POVI PULLINEN, HEADS TO THE BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS FOR ONE OF THE FASTEST SPEED WEEKS EVER
Povi and Davo head to the fastest place on earth
SINCE 1948, the Bonneville salt flats in Utah, USA, have played host to much failure and heartbreak. Yet despite knowing this, year after year hundreds of land speed racing enthusiasts roll out onto its milky white surface in the name of speed. Considering the environmental and mechanical hurdles that need to be conquered, land speed racing can be a painful sport, but chat to anyone suiting up in the sweltering heat at Bonneville and they’ll tell you their pilgrimage to the promised land has been worth it.
This year’s Speed Week boasted healthier salt conditions than in recent memory, and with an added fourth course to the now-customary three (long, short, and rookie) there was plenty of land for everyone.
For myself and fellow Australian Jamie Croker, the stars had aligned that we would both crew (and potentially get seat time) with different teams: Jamie with the record-hardened Montana Dodge Boys and their 240hp vintage ’28 Dodge roadster; me helping my friends Tim and Justin try to run an honest 100mph in a ’banger-powered ’23 Model T roadster.
The salt has a funny way of levelling the playing field, something that becomes immediately obvious once you’re stuck wrenching in 44-degree weather, trying to get the timing right on a questionable 60-year-old magneto, while just down from you George Poteet’s crew are sweating out an engine swap with one of five Duttweiler-built mills for Speed Demon. No matter how big or small your deal was, heads still had to be scratched and sockets still had to be spun.
You could hear it on the radio and you could feel it on the ground: The racing this year was fast. There were 39 records broken on Sunday alone, and 168 would fall overall. The immediate support for the ‘big guns’ was remarkable. If you weren’t at the starting line to watch Danny Thompson fire Challenger 2, or hear the whir of Team Vesco’s Turbinator II, then it was tools down and ears to the radio as those rockets took off towards the horizon on their way to break new land speed barriers.
CHAT TO ANYONE AT BONNEVILLE AND THEY’LL TELL YOU THEIR PILGRIMAGE TO THE PROMISED LAND HAS BEEN WORTH IT
LEFT & ABOVE: This newly built ’32 roadster is the brainchild of seasoned veterans Don Ferguson and Monte Osborn. With the experience of dozens of records between them, they took on the Street Roadster class, which was challenging as the car has almost no aerodynamic help. It’s powered by a 320-cube Jimmy six with a 12-port head and Enderle injection, and is good for around 470hp. The fellas ran a best of 184.751mph Bob Dally’s ’Cuda looked stunning out on the salt, and its slant-six screamed out a best of 127.664mph
LEFT & BELOW: Ed Umland of Eddie’s Chop Shop presented this beautiful bare-metal, Ls-powered streamliner, and ran a best of 352.573mph. The Chevy Suburban push truck (pictured below) sits on a Kenworth chassis, and is just plain awesome