This is what it's all about - mile after mile of salt
Some may say being on assignment for six weeks in the US of A would be great fun, but sitting in a hotel room for weeks on end is not. It does, however, have some advantages - or should I say opportunities? Itís Monday afternoon, August 18 and I suddenly realise I have a free day tomorrow.In this situation a man's thoughts normally turn to girls and cars - lets forget the first one! I know whatís going on with the local automotive scene in Colorado but what about further afield? A quick Google search revealed that I was actually in the US at the same time as Bonneville Speed Week. What a coincidence!Like most hot rodders it has always been a dream of mine to attend this event one day but I had never quite gotten around to making any plans to go.
How far is Bonneville from Denver? Six hundred and twenty four miles according to Mr tomtom and 9.5 hours driving. It didnít take long to make the decision and at the following morning Iím actually standing on that hallowed ground know as ďThe Salt.Ē To say the place is beautiful would be an understatement, but add in the cars and to use that American phrase ďItís truly awesome!Ē I can already hear the sounds of engines running at high speed and then tailing off into the distance and I am starting to suffer sensory overload. Your $15 spectator entrance fee gets you complete access to all areas and I head straight for the pits where some last minute inspections are in progress. While most of the cars are already lining up for their runs, there is still plenty to see. I am overwhelmed by the number of RVís and support vehicles - how much does all of this cost? There is a sense of eccentricity about the place, which is confirmed by some of the vehicles and crew dress codes.
I make my way to the start line and possibly the best place to be, as you can actually stand within four feet of the cars. Where else in the world can you do this? There is a great atmosphere as drivers and crew make last minute preparations, but unlike a drag race, where the tension really builds as the vehicles stage, the start of a run on the salt is very relaxed. A quick radio message from the tower and the starter just waves you off. The crowd falls silent, listening with anticipation; will it hook up, what will it sound like, how well will it run? I swear one car did at least half its run in first gear!
The ex-Thacker and Shine Roadster
I wander around the line-up and the general array of rods, customs and support vehicles, and even bump into several Brits, one of whom had shipped a car out to the US for the event. But after eight hours on the salt, itís time to head back. Surprisingly Iím not sad at having to leave, but elated at actually having made the trip -1,300 miles, 20 hours of driving and 40 hours without any sleep. Am I glad I went? You bet. Will I return? Absolutely. Why? Because Iíve now got the salt habit and want more. Wendover, Utah, I'll be seeing you again.
Story & photos: Chris Smith
Chris would like to thank the following sponsors of his road trip:
Red Bull, McDonalds, tomtom, Avis car hire, Shell Oil and petrol products and the law enforcement agencies of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah for staying out of his way!
Plenty of hot rods came to see the action including this fine pair of 33/34 Fords