If there’s one thing to be said about Bonneville, it would be the salt. It’s the single most important factor in the yearly gathering of Speedweek. The salt gets kicked up from all the passing vehicles and thus dictates the visual aesthetic of the event. By the time day 1 finishes, every hot rod attending the event has been christened with the magical whiteness that surrounds.
Larry Chen and I where on the Salt for 4 days. And each morning, we witnessed one of the most beautiful sunsets that can be witnessed in this world. The landscape is so flat that on a clear morning, you can see the sun actually bubble up from the horizon.
The salty landscape in the pre-dawn hours is like standing on an alien planet.
But when the sun did come up, the salt came alive.
So alive that Larry and I got stuck in the salt with our rental.
Luckily, the Spectre Performance guys helped us get unstuck.
After the car was pulled out, we surveyed the hole which Larry created while trying to get out. He then realized that the Jeremy Clarkson way of life doesn’t work for everything.
Many folks came far and wide to come to Bonneville, and many of the drivers, pit crew members, and spectators were all wearing these amazing Bonneville Speedweek shirts.
This is the world’s fastest Alfa Romeo…
…and the world’s fastest Alfa Romeo driver.
As I walked around the starting line, I came across this neatly arranged set of, hand crafted from wood, land speed racers complete with twin V8s!
This was once a normal car but has since been converted to an all out salt flats racer.
It’s rather interesting to see the various designs and aero developments different cars have to obtain their top speed dreams.
This fully chromed out lakester was a true thing of beauty.
The starting ling workers, these guys are the last guys that the drivers talk to before their run. It’s a rather humbling reminder to think that, over the years, some of these start line workers were the ones to see some of their friends for the last time.
Seth Hammond and his lakester took the record in the unblown motor class, a record that has held for eight years (274.8 MPH). He clocked in 301 MPH through the traps and had an exit speed of 304 MPH. Speedhunting at its finest.
By the end of the second day, a dark an ominous cloud started to roll in.
The contrast of the pristine white salt and dark rainclouds made for an amazing visual contrast.
The rat rod truck above had quite the shift knob….
Cars came out of the woodworks to line up on the mountain back drop with the quickly approaching rain clouds to squeeze in an epic photo or two.
There were even some racing to the line to squeeze in one last run.
Around the Speedhunters office, there’s always one video that keeps getting brought up in various discussions, it’s the spotlight on Shinya Kimura from Chabott Engineering. Larry and I were lucky enough to run across him as he was getting a photo shoot from the Mooneyes Japan photographer.
Seeing the bike that he built in person was a rather amazing experience.
The folks at Spectre Performance were kind enough to feed us during our salty adventures. Apparently, Larry decided that his grilled corn wasn’t to his taste and added a bit of salt to amend that.
But actually, there are certain areas where the salt tastes bitter and other were it tastes more like table salt.
As Larry and I made our way from the salt, we made a stop in the nearby camping grounds to see what hot rods we can find –especially in the quickly disappearing sunlight.
Thought it was a bit sad to see this hot rod on a trailer, especially since it was at Bonneville, an event which everyone drives to. But it was still an amazing machine to behold.
The campsite was a dust filled world. Quite a change from the cleanliness of the salt.
When you first step onto the salt, you think it’s a many feet deep or at its thinnest, a healthy few inches.
But if you take your foot at certain spots and start to dig into the salt, you’l notice that its quite literally, an inch before you hit mud.
If you take the time to talk to some of the drivers that have been out to Bonneville for years, they’ll regale with tales of when the salt was silky smooth and was 3-4 feet deep. Those days are long gone as a mining company has slowly moved the salt which has taken millions of years to develop on the dry lake bed.
Drivers and organizers alike believe that if this mining of the salt keeps on happening, the salt flats will be gone within the next 5-10 years. That’s more than within our life times.
And like Pikes Peak, its scary to think that automotive landmarks like Bonneville are quickly disappearing. Luckily, there are organizations like the Save the Salt foundation to battle this problem. But to preserve the salt for future Speedweeks, it’ll take everyone’s help.