Mr. Wilson goes to Bonneville
A Salty Tale
Eric Ellington called me up some time in August and asked me if I wanted to go to Bonneville. It took me about a second to answer in the affirmative. “Oh yes,” I said. “When do we leave?” We’ll leave, he answered, for Speed Week, held annually during a week in the middle of September. We’ll get there for Tuesday and Wednesday’s runs. We may go some other places too. Fine, I said. Just as long as I can see Bonneville and the salt flats.
Those other places, it turned out, included Cody, Wyoming, and the Buffalo Bill Cody museum; Yellowstone Park and the Old Faithful geyser; Jackson Hole; Wyoming, Pike’s Peak; the Air Force Academy; Royal Gorge; and points in between. Riding with Eric and me were Terry Dalton and Wesley Wynn, racers all. We figure that when the riding was over, we had put more than 2,000 miles on our PT Cruiser rent-a-car.
If you’re any kind of hot rodder, you owe a tip of the racing helmet to those who like to trip the timing lights fantastic. If Indy, Pomona, Rockingham and Gainesville is your playground, so too should be the great salt flats, where hot rodders and drag racers have been tripping those lights since shortly after the Great World War.
We arrived on Tuesday, plenty of time to see passes and record runs in both the seven-mile and five-mile lanes, even though most fast cars -- roadsters and streamlines, for example -- soon disappeared into a mirage. (Note: the salt flats are as hard as a brick, as one motorcycle racer who crashed just 60 feet out found out. Also, since salt-white reflects sunlight, you’ll soon learn to pack on the sun block. I was sunburned a week after returning home. People have been known to get sunburned under their noses and chins.)
Herein are some of my favorite cars of Bonneville ’08. Now if we could coax a couple onto the quarter-mile asphalt, we’d feel really cool.
How many “Foot Wash” signs have you seen in your life? This one and a “Bonneville greetings” sign are placed at the entrance to the salt flats. Racing course is a couple of miles away.
Our favorite car just had to be this bright red streamliner/competition coupe, powered by what looks like a blown ‘n’ injected engine. We’d like to see what this baby could do on the quarter mile.