A Power & Performance News contributor, “LandSpeed” Louise Ann Noeth, took to the Bonneville Salt Flats for Speed Week 2016, and she brought back first-hand inside information from the event. Here are the highlights and behind-the-scenes exclusives, just for our readers!
Words and Photos to Follow By: “LandSpeed” Louise Ann Noeth
Kaylin Stewart Becomes the Youngest Female Member of Bonneville 200MPH Club
Kaylin Stewart, an 18 year-old, is youngest female member of the Bonneville 200MPH Club, earning her freshly minted life membership with a 224 mph record driving the red and white Jesel Dodge Ram R/T pick-up at the SCTA 2016 Bonneville Speed Week.
“She did a great job,” said beaming owner Wayne Jesel, with his best adopted uncle smile. “We are very happy to have helped a young person advance in land speed racing.”
With her dad, Tom, working on the crew supported by mom, Jessica, and brother, Riley, Kaylin laid down two flying mile passes to bump up the new B/BMP class record before she starts her Creative Producing studies at Chapman University in Southern California. The budding filmmaker already has finished a project documenting the female members of the very fast club she now joins.
“I would love to someday go drag racing, but I do fully intend to continue land speed racing,” said the young lady with 17 years solid of serious experience. Yes, 17 – and she’s got photos and crew member credentials to prove it!
Studebaker Takes to the Flats
Renown automotive designer Raymond Loewy had no idea the elegant 1950s Studebaker design would be embraced by the land speed racing world where his slippery bodies would carry drivers to Bonneville glory 53 years later.
Competing in Class C Gas Competition Coupe, the neon root beer colored car is owned by “social directors” Betty and Paul Gilliam, but driven by Don Enriquez. Johnson’s Hot Rod Shop is responsible for the race car’s design and build that carries a 369c.i. Automotive Specialists, GM small-block bullet under the hood.
The car showed up on the starting line throughout the week, but only managed a top speed of 195 mph, down from its 2013 speed of 228 mph on the less than optimal salt racing surface.
Most speed machines were conservative on their runs recognizing the thin 1-inch salt crust was only beginning to heal itself from two years of torrential wet weather thanks in a big way to the advocacy work of the Utah Alliance and Save the Salt.
Speed Demon Breaks Class B Blown Fuel Streamliner Record
Speed Demon needs both parachutes to slow down after ripping through the clocks at 442 mph.
Poteet put the hurt on the Class B Blown Fuel Streamliner record with a provisional average of 416.511 mph – a 35 mph reset!
The existing record was set in 1991 by LSR statesman Al Teague who telephoned Poteet on the salt minutes after the numbers were recorded to congratulate him on the achievement.
“I think I know why you quit Al,” chuffed the amiable Poteet into the cell phone, “This is hard!”
Dealing with traction issues all week long, the Speed Demon Racing Team saw the streamliner spin the tires on both passes: 403.923 mph, qualifying and 429.099 mph for the record run.
Steve Watt of Maxwell Industries, Ventura, CA is Speed Demon’s high speed nanny, builder, and Crew Chief.
“We knew the course was terrible all week,” reported Watt. “If we had better salt a 450 mph run would have gotten crossed off the ‘to do’ list.”
Indeed. The car blew up 3.5 miles into a 5-mile haul and still went 436 mph out the back door on 7 Kenny Duttweiler cylinders.
“It was a Cinderella week,” concluded Watt. “We had a brand new car that exceeded 400 mph on every run, set one new record, and earned the Hot Rod Magazine Trophy for the 6th year in a row by reaching 442 mph.
Geologist Passes 200MPH in His ZR1 C4 Corvette
David Hlebichuk, a retired Texas geologist, and his 1990 ZR1 C4 Corvette recorded a 222.027 run on Aug 18, 2016 in Class C GT. Ya gotta wonder what the guy thought of the surface conditions…
Green Speed Diesel Truck Officially the First to drive past 200MPH on Vegetable Oil
Green Speed Diesel Truck – Officially the first vehicle on planet earth to drive past 200 mph on 100% vegetable oil! The team went on to contest the diesel record with vegetable oil, but the metal gremlins decided they needed to extract a wrist pin without warning. Before that happened the team recorded a one-mile average of 207.365 mph to make it the fastest diesel truck at the 2016 Speed Week. Maybe the elevated EGT at the end of the previous run was a bad omen.
Still you got to give the Team credit for its stellar job of hacking away at alternative fuel runs. GreenSpeed Research is a non-profit in Garden City, Idaho, dedicated to: “making the world a better place by creating learning opportunities for the STEM disciplines and renewable energy sources” and operated by college kids with big dream.
Stunning Carbinliner Seemed to be Cursed
When it comes to style nothing got close to Carbinliner, the most visually alluring speed machine on the salt during Speed Week 2016.
The team made a fine showing of itself with a couple of “preferred parking” trips into the impound after qualifying for a record, but was attacked by naughty salt gremlins dashing record hopes throughout the week.
Co-Owner/Driver Rob Freyvogel is no rookie whom we found pacing the impound salt muttering aloud with an abundance of expletives that qualifying at 300 ANYTHING was NOT anywhere good enough.
“We didn’t do all this work for 300, this is a 400 mph car,” he said with honest exasperation. “This car needs better salt.”
No argument here. Freyvogel was echoing the lament of dozens of racers who packed up after one, or two runs before they hurt the car or themselves on a pockmarked thin salt crust that some termed “greasy.”
Reminded that few ever made it to the revered impound section, Freyvogel took stock of his situation — a new car already qualified on an existing record and was content for the rest of the afternoon.
Co-owner/driver Brandon Barnhart explained the other worldly design came courtesy of Eric Ahlstrom, who cherry-picked parts from Craig Breedlove’s 3-wheeled Spirit of America, who took his styling cues from the late Alex Tremulis. Talk about a wad of imitation flattery!
Powered by a big-block twin turbo, dyno’d at plus 2,600 hp, look for some spectacular performance from this team in the coming weeks. Note the active, driver adjustable wing flaps on the trailing edge of the outrigger wheels.
Roadsters Take to the Salt Flats
You simply can’t hold a Bonneville Speed Week without roadsters and 2016 was no exception. This stunningly bright eye-catcher was being pushed off the starting line in search of what ever speed the salt was willing to give up that morning.
Ed Renck, 74, of Pueblo, Colorado, driving the #432 Renck, Hull, Bottini & Roberts gas roadster added a few miles to the existing record with a 235.844 average on Wednesday, August 17th.
Teams Came From All-Around
The salt crust might be thin this year, but the attraction power has not receded one iota. More than 12 countries were represented at the 2016 SCTA Speed Week, including this New Zealand team of Cook Motor Racing.
Dozens After Target 550
Target 550, the streamliner of Marlo Treit and Les Davenport (driver) came to a controlled stop some 9 miles down course and one-half mile off the active track when both ring slot parachutes failed. Treit suspects the canopy size is too small for the 8,000 pound car, now approaching the 400 mph threshold on its way to the magic 550 mark.
The inset photo shows the complete shredding of the once perfect parachute. “Whoa-ing” is just as important as going,” was once astutely said by the late Don Vesco, who even in death reigns top dog for wheel-driven cars with his 458 mph set in 2001.
Nearly a dozen cars are after his title in 2016, but the lack of solid, safe salt has all the fast folks being particularly careful after a 2-year absence, due to bad weather coupled with the already super thin crust attributed to decades of miserable stewardship by the Bureau of Land Management.
The racers have engaged elected officials, on the state and federal levels, about getting the historic place restored before it is mined bare.
Honda Team Members Take Notes to Reach 200 MPH
Automaker Honda was on the salt with its “Young Associate Development Program” that takes a big, long look at new employees according to Leisuke Tsuta, project manager.
Here, four of the team members analyze the data from driver Hikaru Miyagi’s last run in the team’s 600 cc powered streamliner. From the look on their face it’s a fair bet the salt is teaching them yet another lesson on how to run fast in straight line. Every run has brought them closer to the plus 200 mph goal.
Congress Shows Up for Important Lessons
Land Speed Racers were not only serious about their spectacular racing at Speed Week 2016, but invited members of the US Congress to come out from Washington DC for a presentation of disturbing mis-management by the Bureau of Land Management over the past 45 years.
Here, Save the Salt Board member Larry Volk, wails away with a pick hammer demonstrating what the hardness ought to be to offer a safe racing surface. There is very little “primo” salt crust at the moment, with each passing hot, sunny day, the desiccation process adds a smidgen more crust than the day before.
Without government intervention, the racing is in red alert mode. With amazing help from the SEMA staff in Washington, DC, racers have been told a bill will soon be introduced in the House of Representatives addressing the deplorable federal management practices. A couple of days prior, Utah Governor Herbert’s Director of Public Lands Policy Kathleen Clarke, spent 9 hours on the salt familiarizing herself with current conditions and racer observations.
Gotta dig this dog whose owners created custom footwear to protect against the hot, wet salt surface. Not quite certain if the dog thinks it is worth the trouble.
The Weather Was Picture-Perfect, But Not the Salt
Going to the Bonneville Salt Flats and NOT getting up before dawn at least one day is the dumbest thing you could do in Wendover, Utah, during Speed Week 2016.
The weather was picture perfect all week, too bad the salt wasn’t the same. Of the 450 pre-entries, nearly half had put their speed machines back on the trailer after trying to make a speed run without seat sucking drama.
Bonneville is like a patient in the Intensive Care Unit that just woke up – it needs to get better and perform serious rehab if land speed racing is to survive.
Lonnie Martin’s Beetle blocks the long course staging lanes until the cars, trucks, and motorcycles complete their record-attempting runs.
Team McLeish Bros Gathers Records During the Week
It was high-fives all around Team McLeish Bros as they earned the National Land Speed Record during SCTA’s 2016 Speed Week. The blown gas-modified sports car #760 set first the “open record” at 192 mph, and then ran two more times to 211 mph. This also earned life memberships into the 200 mph club for crew members Scott Mattern and Mike Fitzmorris.
Team Mcleish Bros has been land speed racing since 1999. The team has set AMA, FIM, SCTA and BNI records, and has won the El Mirage Points Championship five times. Team Captain Derek McLeish relies on brother Douglas McLeish as Crew Chief, Mike Fitzmorris for electronics, Scott Mattern handles the engines, Doug Robinson finesses the aero package, and Ralph LeClercq puts in the tune.
The hard-working team gathered up two more records during Speed Week, for a total of five on what was at best, a slushy, greasy track that put nearly half of the entered speed machines on the trailer by the third day.
Richard Smith’s Coupe Catches Lakester and Legend Reflections
Richard Smith patiently waits for his turn on the starting line in his #651 AA, blown gas- competition coupe at the 68th running of Speed Week, presented by the volunteer racing organization SCTA-BNI.
The highly polished vertical struts supporting the car’s rear wing offers a reflection of the Das Bullet belly tank Lakester, which is adjacent on the starting line. The man in the orange hat is Nick Arias III of racing piston fame.
-See you next year!