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Bonneville Speedway

Bonneville Speedway

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Bonneville Speedway is an area of the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah
Wendover, Utah
Wendover is a city in Tooele County, Utah, United States. It is part of the Elko Micropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 1,537 at the 2000 census, with a 2006 estimated population of 1,632....

, that is marked out for motor sports. It is particularly noted as the venue for numerous land speed record
Land speed record
The land speed record is the highest speed achieved by a wheeled vehicle on land. There is no single body for validation and regulation; in practice the Category C flying start regulations are used, officiated by regional or national organizations under the auspices of the Fédération...

s.

The salt flats were first used for motor sports in 1912, but didn't become truly popular until the 1930s when Ab Jenkins
Ab Jenkins
David Abbott "Ab" Jenkins was the 24th mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah from 1940 to 1944 and was a professional race car driver. Jenkins' interest in motorsports began with racing motorcycles on dirt tracks and cross country. He then became interested in land speed records at the Bonneville Salt...

 and Sir Malcolm Campbell
Malcolm Campbell
Sir Malcolm Campbell was an English racing motorist and motoring journalist. He gained the world speed record on land and on water at various times during the 1920s and 1930s using vehicles called Blue Bird...

 competed to set land speed records.

Track Layouts


Historically, the speedway was marked out by the Utah Department of Transportation
Utah Department of Transportation
The Utah Department of Transportation is an agency of the state government for the U.S. state of Utah. The agency is usually referred to by its initials UDOT . UDOT is charged with maintaining the network of state highways in Utah. The agency is headquartered in the Calvin L. Rampton state office...

 at the start of each summer. Originally, two tracks were prepared; a 10 mile long straightway for speed trials and an oval or circular track for distance runs, which was typically between 10 and 12 miles (16 and 19 km) long depending on the condition of the salt surface.

Since at least the 1990s, track preparations have been the responsibility of the event organizers. Days or weeks in advance, the track preparers identify an area best suited for their track layouts and begin grading the tracks. Surveyors are brought in to survey the timing trap distances. A day before racing begins, the track markers are added.

Originally, the straightway was marked with a broad black line down its center. This was eventually changed to lines down either side, as the center line wore out too quickly. As the costs for painting the lines has gone up, organizations have switched to flags and cones as track markers. The last event to use black lines was SpeedWeek, August 2009.

The number of tracks and the timed sections for each track are set according to what is most beneficial for each event. Large public meets such as SpeedWeek run as many as three tracks with several timed miles, usually starting with the second mile and running to the fifth mile. Smaller meets that typically only run world record attempts will utilize a single track, with one timed mile and one timed kilometer in the middle of the track. Additional marks and cones indicate the end of the track and the position of timing equipment.

Events and meetings


In August, the Southern California Timing Association and Bonneville Nationals Inc. organize SpeedWeek, the largest meet of the year, which attracts several hundred drivers who compete to set highest speed in a range of categories.

In late August, the BUB Motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

 Speed Trials are held.

In September each year is the World of Speed, (similar to Speedweek) organized by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association. The USFRA also meet on the first Wednesday of each month throughout the summer.

In October, the Southern California Timing Association puts on World Finals, a scaled down version of SpeedWeek.

Each year, there are usually a few private meets that are not publicized scattered between the larger public meets.

Land speed records


Numerous land speed records in various vehicle categories and classes have been set on the Bonneville speed way. In 1960, Mickey Thompson
Mickey Thompson
Marion Lee "Mickey" Thompson was an American off-road racing legend. He won many championships as a racer, and later formed sanctioning bodies SCORE International and Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group . He also raced in dragsters and land speed record automobiles.Thompson was born in Alhambra,...

 became the first American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 to break the 400 mph (644 km/h) barrier, hitting 406.60 mph and (654.36 km/h) surpassing John Cobb
John Cobb (motorist)
John Rhodes Cobb was a British racing motorist. He made money as a director of fur brokers Anning, Chadwick and Kiver and could afford to specialise in large capacity motor-racing...

's 1947 one-way Land speed record of 403 mph (649 km/h). Other notable examples of Bonneville speed records include:


Year Driver Vehicle Speed mph Speed km/h
1935 Sir Malcolm Campbell
Malcolm Campbell
Sir Malcolm Campbell was an English racing motorist and motoring journalist. He gained the world speed record on land and on water at various times during the 1920s and 1930s using vehicles called Blue Bird...

 
Blue Bird  301.129 484.620
1947 Don Waite The Edelbrock
Edelbrock
Edelbrock, LLC is a specialty performance automotive and motorcycle aftermarket parts manufacturer based in Torrance, California. The company has five locations, including four in Torrance: its headquarters, a distribution center and museum, the Russell division , and the exhaust plant...

 Special
192 309
1963 Craig Breedlove
Craig Breedlove
Craig Breedlove is a five-time world land speed record holder. He was the first to reach , , and , using several turbojet-powered vehicles, all named Spirit of America.-Land vehicle speed records :...

Spirit of America  407.447 655.722
1964 Art Arfons
Art Arfons
Arthur Eugene "Art" Arfons was the world land speed record holder three times in 1964 – 1965 with his Green Monster series of jet-powered cars, after a series of Green Monster piston-engine and jet-engined dragsters...

 
The Green Monster
Green Monster (car)
The Green Monster was the name of several vehicles built by Art Arfons and his half brother Walt Arfons. These ranged from dragsters to a turbojet-powered car which briefly held the land speed record three times during 1964 and 1965....

 
434.022 664.694
1965 Craig Breedlove
Craig Breedlove
Craig Breedlove is a five-time world land speed record holder. He was the first to reach , , and , using several turbojet-powered vehicles, all named Spirit of America.-Land vehicle speed records :...

Spirit of America - Sonic 1 600.601 966.574
1969 Burt Munro
Burt Munro
Herbert James "Burt" Munro was a New Zealand motorcycle racer, famous for setting an under-1,000 cc world record, at Bonneville, 26 August 1967. This record still stands today...

Indian
Indian (motorcycle)
Indian is an American brand of motorcycles. Indian motorcycles were manufactured from 1901 to 1953 by a company in Springfield, Massachusetts, USA, initially known as the Hendee Manufacturing Company but which was renamed the Indian Manufacturing Company in 1928. The Indian factory team took the...

 Scout V-Twin
183.59 295.44
1970 Gary Gabelich
Gary Gabelich
Gary Gabelich was a Croatian-American race car driver who set the land speed record with his rocket-powered vehicle "Blue Flame" on October 23, 1970, achieving an average speed of . Only 13,000 lbs. s.t...

Blue Flame 622.407 1001.67
2001 Don Vesco Vesco Turbinator - Turbine Engine 458.443 737.395
2004 R. Schroe Buckeye Bullet
Buckeye Bullet
The Buckeye Bullet is the name of a series of student-built, alternative-fuel race cars created by The Ohio State University students led by Dr. Giorgio Rizzoni at the Center for Automotive Research...

 - Electric Vehicle
314.958 524.930
2006 Andy Green
Andy Green
Wing Commander Andy D. Green OBE BA RAF is a British Royal Air Force pilot and World Land Speed Record holder.-RAF career:...

JCB Dieselmax
JCB Dieselmax
The JCB Dieselmax is a diesel-engined 'Streamliner' car designed for the purpose of breaking the land speed record for a diesel-engined vehicle.The car was built for JCB...

 - Diesel Streamliner
350.092 563.418

See also

  • List of vehicle speed records
  • Land speed record
    Land speed record
    The land speed record is the highest speed achieved by a wheeled vehicle on land. There is no single body for validation and regulation; in practice the Category C flying start regulations are used, officiated by regional or national organizations under the auspices of the Fédération...

  • Black Rock Desert
    Black Rock Desert
    The Black Rock Desert is an arid region in the northern Nevada section of the Great Basin with a lakebed that is a dry remnant of Pleistocene Lake Lahontan...

  • Lake Eyre
    Lake Eyre
    Lake Eyre is the lowest point in Australia, at approximately below sea level, and, on the rare occasions that it fills, it is the largest lake in Australia and 18th largest in the world...