Friday, September 21, 2012

On the Salt - Bonneville Speed Week 2012, From

We found this great piece shot by Canadian film makers about Bonneville Speed Week. Its well done and captures some great folks and their stories. Cannot wait to get on the salt for the first time.

Link to Sympatico Autos

"Over seven days, 168 world land speeds records will be set here by amateurs in more than 500 hotrods, streamliners and motorcycles. But you’ll likely never hear about these record-setters. The outright land speed record is 1,228 km/h or Mach 1.02. RAF Wing Commander (ie: hot-shot fighter pilot) Andy Green broke through the sound barrier on the way to setting the record in a vehicle named ThrustSSC.

It was powered by a pair of afterburning Rolls-Royce turbojet engines, together producing as much thrust as 145 Formula One racecars. It does 0-1,000 km/h in an estimated 16 seconds. (That’s not a typo.) So you can see why these amateurs at Bonneville, however brave and skilled, will never make headline news. No, these land speed racers risk their lives for something else, although what that is, is hard to say.

“It took three years to build [the Studebaker] and we've been racing it for four years,” says Moreau. “This year is the best year, we went twice 200 mph and the third run we run 205 and we hope to make this run 210.” All land speed racers, even those from Quebec, talk in miles-per-hour, not kilometres.

“The first year we had an issue with learning the altitude of this place to make the motor work. The second year we had issue with high-speed unstable. And the third year we get better aerodynamic on the car. This year everything seems to work well,” says Moreau.

By “high-speed unstable” he means the car would dance from side to side across the salt, fishtailing at 100-plus mph (160 kph). “You have to concentrate to keep the car straight and just let your mind go with it, and everything will go well. Because it’s not on concrete, this is salt. And the car will do weird things sometimes when you shift gears… you never know what this thing will do to you.”

Soon after, Moreau lets the Hemi roar and disappears over the horizon, off on another run. On their last day on the salt, he set a new personal record: 210 mph. Perron sent us an e-mail with pictures of Moreau's Class A license. He's now a member of the 200 MPH Club.

At least 10 people have died at Bonneville chasing speed records. And for what? For a little receipt with numbers on it? To join the ranks of the “200 MPH Club” or 300, or 400. (There are only 14 members in the 400 MPH Club.)

No, for many it’s like climbing Everest—doing something to see if you can, to see what it’s like, to go where very few have gone before. For others, it’s the mechanical challenge of building a machine. Going fast is as much as a test of bravery as it is of engineering ability. There’s real creativity there."