Bonneville Speed Week, 2011

Bonneville Speed Week is a fairly regular event for me to attend, though I do miss a year from time to time.  I did miss last year, though Speed Week 2009,  20072006 and 2005 are documented at those links.  Previous years trips out to Bonneville were in the late 80’s and early 90’s and photographs of those events were more sparse.  I’ll have to see if they can be found at some point.

Edit: 2012 event here.


Like last time, I left Salt Lake around 4am and discovered another side effect of the bad economy… the service stations that I’d normally fill up at or grab some coffee and doughnuts from are closed in the wee hours of the morning.  When did that start happening?  I wanted to go out the night before like I did back in 2007 to catch the Perseid meteor display, but tight schedules and a full moon sorta put the stops to that plan.  I have better camera gear these days and night shots from the salt flats would be more impressive.  Perhaps my friend Duncan will make a stop by with his time lapse gear at some point and we can plan a stop out there overnight.


Again, the it seemed that the number of racers out here this year is down substantially, due to the poor economy no doubt.  The racers that were out there were either the hard core guys that I’ve been seeing attend for years or those with lots of disposable income that the economy does not necessarily seem to affect.  As in recent years though, lots of rat rods are present out on the salt.  Many more than used to be out here in the 80’s or 90’s like people have rediscovered them or something.



David Bloomberg (looks like they stole one of my pictures of him), a.k.a. “The Avanti Kid” is one of those guys who has been coming back year after year.  His Studebaker Avanti, running Ron Hall’s old number 1963 was out there again this year.  I’ve talked about Ron Hall before who raced his all Studebaker (engine, transmission, car, etc…) 1963 Avanti out at the Salt Flats about 20 years ago now.



Studebaker Loewy Coupes are still common sights out on the salt.  Of course none of them are running Studebaker engines these days.  More exotic power plants propel these cars with exceptional aerodynamics for a 1953 design.



Corvettes of all years are present out on the salt.  There used to be more including some factory efforts from Chevrolet from time to time and I look forward to the economic recovery so we can see more factory teams back out on the salt.



Its interesting as there are very few Ferrari’s that make it out onto the salt, a notable exception was Bob Norwood a few years ago who brought out a Ferrari 288 GTO with a big block 8.2 liter NASCAR V8 in it for a record of 275.4 MPH.  One of the racers out on the salt this year with a Ferrari was Richard Losee with his Enzo Ferrari.  I was looking for a story for Automobile Magazine and thought perhaps that this would be the one.  Unfortunately, Richard is a Road & Track guy and had committed the telling of his story and this particular Enzo Ferrari to them.  Regardless, Richard and I had a nice conversation and reminisced about a gentleman I used to work for years ago, Mr. Kemp.  Mr. Kemp had an *amazing* collection of automobiles including old Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Mercedes and many others.



Two wheeled transportation is seen both on the speedway and as a means to get around the several mile long pit, inspection area and starting lines.  I always delight in seeing new motorcycle designs from manufactures that have been lost to history.  The image of the motorcycle being ridden above is a Servi Cycle made in New Orleans from 1935-1960.  I had never seen one before.




Every year I try and find a favorite car out on the salt.  This year it was not so much a car as it was an old rusty belly fuel tank with 4 wheels.  I figured initially that it was just for show as it was so tiny and did not seem to have any running gear per se.  With those conditions, it would now have qualified for my favorite car as it was not a functioning ride per se.  However, later in the day I was absolutely delighted to see it being driven down around the pit area and it became my favorite car of the year.



Going fast is always dangerous as evinced by this hot rod getting sideways at well over 100MPH.  I saw a few instances of that this year, but thankfully I have not heard any reports of people getting killed or injured.  It happens out at Speed Week from time to time and I am always grateful to hear of a year where no injuries or fatalities occur.



One always sees aircraft out on the salt as well.  I’ve been buzzed by P-51 Mustangs, single and twin engine private planes and one year an F-16 made a particularly low pass along the course.  This year, there were a number of Piper Cubs and an Aviat Husky that landed on the salt as well as this Eurocopter EC-130 owned by the Enzo Ferrari driver Richard Losee and his company Cirque Lodge.


I don’t have expensive SLR telephoto lenses like some of the other folks covering Speed Week do like Jim Urquhart did for Reuters/The Atlantic.  I had to make to with a spotting scope and a point and shoot camera for some of the distance shots…  Perhaps in the future, I’ll arrange something a little more flexible, but for now, this is it.



See you next year.


11 Replies to “Bonneville Speed Week, 2011”

  1. Wow! thanks again for taking pictures of my Avanti, its my last year of racing, hope to put my car in the Studebaker Musuem in South Bend, Indiana, thanks for the support, Dave Bloomberg (Avanti Kid Racing)

    1. Sure thing Dave! I had no idea it was your last year racing. If so, we should have done some more extensive documentation. Let me know if you want the higher resolution images.

      1. Sure if you want to send them to me via e-mail that would be great! my e-mail is “” I sure wish you could have talked with me in the pits so I could say goodbye and thanks for all your support with your blog and photos, respectfully Dave Bloomberg

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