Bonneville Speed Week, 2012

Bonneville Speed Week is something that I try and get out as often as I can, though schedules sometimes prevent a showing.  I shot here in 2011, missed 2010, shot in 2009, missed 2008, but shot in 2007, 2006 and 2005.  Check out those posts for some history on the Bonneville salt flats, Speed Week and more.

This year, rather than get up at 4am and drive out from Salt Lake, I camped out the night before some ways North at the edge of the Utah Test and Training Range in the hopes of photographing the Perseid meteor showers.  It clouded up so no luck there.  I got up before dawn and drove down to the salt flats to photograph some of the first runs of the day.


One of the first cars of the day was Poteet & Main Speed Demon driven by George Poteet which blew past me at 427 MPH on its way to a new record.  I was juggling two cameras for this pass, one on the spotting scope and the other, handheld SLR to grab these shots.  The car was moving so fast, it really was hard to believe.


Because these cars are moving so fast, the track has to be carefully prepared.  You can imagine what going over this would be like at 427 MPH.  So in the weeks before Speed Week begins, crews come out to the salt flats to survey and grade tracks that the racers will drive on.


I’ve always love the Studebaker automobiles out on the salt going back to the bullet nose coupes.  This raked coupe, owned and driven by Bill Bess out of Tillamook, Oregon looked great on the salt.

Hot rods and classic cars of all types are represented out here on the salt.  I wonder if the ride immediately above with the H.A.M.B. license plate is someone from Jalopy Journal?


More Studebakers!  This time a 220MPH pickup truck owned and driven by Norris Anderson out of Jamestown, Kansas that I’ve seen out here on the salt for many years.


The salt flats are an unworldly place.  There is a reason that so many companies come out here to shoot commercials as its one, big, sparse and featureless terrain.  This year we had lots of smoke in the air due to all of the fires consuming the American West.


Rat rods peaked out here on the salt flats a couple of years ago it seems.  But there is still good representation for the form in all shapes and sizes including this rat rod pickup with a connecting rod gear shift.


This is the starting line and yes, the salt is so hard and dry that you can burn rubber.


Its also murderously hot out on the salt.  This photo was made *before* 10am and the temperature climbed further as the day wore on.  So, sunscreen, protective clothing and LOTS of water to hydrate are critical to spending time out on the salt.


A 1928 Ford roadster owned and driven by Ken Makuch out of Massachusetts seen leaving the starting line.


The wildest Triumph GT6 that you will ever see, a car capable of 306MPH owned and driven by Keith Copeland out of Tucson, Arizona.


Car 3400, the Vintage Hammer Special owned by Fabian Valdez and Diana Branch, driven by Fabian Valdez out of Riverside California was a great family operation like most efforts out here on the salt it seems.  Families that get together and race.  Diana Branch also owns a really choice Studebaker hot rod that I’ve photographed before.  That photograph ended up in the Smithsonian Museums exhibit on water a couple of years ago.


Back when I was a kid, one of our neighbors had an Opel GT with a modified engine in it.  I thought that car was all kinds of cool and still have a soft spot in my heart for that shape.  Car 1811, owned and driven by Kenneth Lindebak out of Auburn, Washington also has a modified engine in it, except its a much bigger engine that turns this little Opel into a 232MPH red bullet.


Another streamliner like the Speed Demon above, this streamliner owned by Don Ferguson Jr out of Wilmington, California and powered by Tim Kraushaar’s 430 cubic inch Chevy V-8, powering it to 344MPH.


I love these Studebaker Lowey coupes.  This one, a searing yellow ’54 is owned and driven by Terry Coe out of La Mesa, California.  Its significantly faster than the 55 coupe I used to drive as this one runs 262MPH…  The back end of my coupe got light around 110MPH…  Not admitting to driving that fast mind you.  Just noting that it got a little squirrly at speed without any aerodynamic mods like car 352 here.


Have I mentioned that I like Studebakers?  This ’53 coupe came all the way from Cantly, Quebec, Canada and is owned and driven by Andre Moreau.


These two shots show the importance of the parachute to help decelerate the cars (application of brakes going as fast as they do can be dangerous).  As shown by the photo immediately above, they can also help stabilize cars.  That car in the picture above is going backwards at a good rate of speed, having just spun.  The parachute can function as a drogue and help stabilize cars that deviate too far from normal operation.


I have another soft spot for exotic hardware out on the salt and every so often, someone gets a bug to race a Ferrari out here.  Last year, Richard Losee ran his Ferrari Enzo out here at 275.4 MPH.  This years Ferrari was a 2001 575 owned and driven by Joe Moch out of Charlevoix, Michigan.  It was a good looking car that was beautifully finished.  I don’t know how they did this year as other appointments that day demanded my attention, but I hope they did well enough to get a record.


Hope to see you out on the salt next year!



23 Replies to “Bonneville Speed Week, 2012”

  1. Thanks for posting, Bryan! Love the Hot Rods and the Rats! Surprised to see the Ferrari on the salt though…. also, the salt appears a little darker than when I was there 2 years ago; was there so much smoke in the atmosphere? I miss this place! Thanks again for sharing!

    1. The salt can take on different appearances depending upon the light, the angle of the light and I’ve been told, how much moisture we’ve had the previous winter. We had a pretty dry year, so perhaps that is part of it. The brightness or albedo will also appear brighter with a clearer sky, I am sure. We’ve had so much smoke in the atmosphere from the fires throughout the West that it really did affect the quality of light out there.

  2. Very cool pics! Wish I could have made it this year. :-(

    The Opel GT brought back memories. Did I ever mention I had one? Raw but fun. The previous owner was an auto-crosser so the engine was blue-printed/balanced with the most aggressive cam that could be CARB certified (along with some chassis & body mods). Needless to say, it liked to run at the upper end of the tach. In the days of the national 55 limit, 4th was to high for it (to be legal anyway ;-).

    And the ’53 Coupe is a beautiful car.

      1. I have a couple film pics in the archives. Should dig them out and digitize them…

        Yes, next year! Just put it on the calendar. In doing so, I noticed World Finals are coming up on the 1st. Are they worth going to?

  3. Joe ran just over 200mph in the Ferrari. They were pitted next to us (The Flower of Scotland streamliner).
    Note how big the pressure ridges were off the main surface… Salt was very hard this year and lots of cars were shaken to bits (including ours!)

    1. Hey Rick! Appreciate the feedback on Joe’s run.

      I saw your streamliner and have seen you guys out there in previous years. Next time you are going to be out there, give me a shout and I’ll make some images of your efforts there.

  4. Hi, just wondering if you were at 2012 World Finals and if so, did you get any shots of Keith Copeland’s fast runs? We were hoping someone shot the 384mph run. His car is the red 71 Triumph GT6 number 1768 Black Salt Racing that set a new 364mph record. Contact us at Thanks, Donna

  5. Just Googled my name (in images) and there is my yellow ’50 Stude Starlight- 6940 @ Bville last year. Thanks for the nice comments. I went back this year but didn’t do any better. Will try again in ’14 w/ a bigger turbo and may propane. Thanks again, Bill Bess Save The Salt

  6. Regarding the photo of the Ferguson streamliner — I am Timothy Kraushaar and I can assure you that I was not driver for this run. The car was powered by my 430″ injected SBC. TK (aka) Weed

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