Event>>2009 Bonneville – Step Up To The Plate

There is no "i" in team or so demented sports coaches would have you believe……………….but like all cliches there is an element of truth that runs right through to the real world. Take record breaking at Bonneville Speedway, sure only one guy straps himself into the cockpit and presses on the loud pedal for what must seem an eternity. However for any serious effort it takes a whole bunch of guys to get the car even to the start line.

Take Nish Motorsport who have come back to Utah with the aim of bumping up their 377.715 mph best set in 2007.  In fact their ultimate goal is to top 425mph and grab the long standing FIA Record but that will have to wait till September. 

Their first run at this year's Speed Week began much earlier in the day as it always does. Way before the car sits waiting for the signal to go, the work starts. The crew arrive before dawn, just after the 6.00am opening time. Amongst the many jobs to do and tasks to be completed there is the small matter of getting the engine up to working temperature. In common with most racing engines these days water is pumped round the block to optimise performance.

This is just one part of the unseen labours of the team, any team in motorpsort.

Time ticks on and soon the driver, Mike Nish, arrives and the preparation rate goes up several gears, the time to run is drawing near.

The engine is fired up and Terry Nish tends to it using all the experience gained in 50 years of motorsport at all levels.

Bodywork is assembled and fitted, and a definite urgency comes into the proceedings……..

The Nish Motorsports team has a pretty good claim to being the World's fastest family with Terry being timed at 338.276mph and sons Mike, 373.907mph, Jeff, 344.561 and TJ,  332.622mph. Add to this them guiding Jim Wysong (310.815mph) and Pam Curtis (287.826mph) to records as well. As if this was not enough speed for one team, crew chief, Cec McCray's 47.586mph is the current record for an electric bar stool…………at last a category I might be able to compete in.

So next up is the journey down the five or so miles to the start line. Incredibly the team is generous enough to allow me to ride with the crew despite the importance of the occasion. It typical of the spirit that prevails at the Salt Flats, folks cannot do enough for you.

The precious cargo nestles on the trailer as the slow progress is made along the pits and the line of spectators.

We travel in convoy with the other team support vehicles………………

Then we arrive at the queue for the long course.

As ever this is busy with everyone wanting to get their names on the timing sheet.

Actually the team do not have to wait as priority is given to those who are attempting to exceed 300mph.

The Start Line is reached, to quote a great man, this is not the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps, the end of the beginning.

"If you can keep your head about you………". Mike Nish seemed the calmest man around the assembly area, veteran of many land speed attempts and a former top level single seater driver, he is vastly experienced.

He waits with Cec while errant vehicles are chased off the track and debris cleared.

Scott helps Mike with the balacalva and other essential parts of his safety kit.

More attention to detail born of years' of experience, cleaning the salt off Mike's racing boots.

Then Mike is securely strapped into his cockpit…………hurry up and wait.

And wait, all the while Cec attends…………………..

The anticipation in the crowd builds as the engine is fired up for the final warm up.

Then a rush back to the truck and we push start the streamliner onto the course……………the speed builds and I hand the radio to Cec………..then bang off it goes…………

And away the Purple car speeds, I get a dose of nitro giving me a few tears…………….

What happens next? Well come back tomorrow to find out.

John Brooks



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great story!


Sweet!! O_O


Cool stuff Brooks! Can't wait to see what they ran you dog! ha ha Beautiful pics as well. Hopefully theres a sweet vid by the end of the week. Top Stuff!

See you on the Salt


Very cool story.

Nice job John


Thanks John, that post was amazing, one of the best on Speedhunters.

Last photo in HI res would be perfect.



Brilliant article John, thanks