Fast family sees another hit 300 mph
Bonneville Salt Flats • You wouldn't think that something learned on the Pacific Ocean off Hawaii might help a Speed Week driver set a land speed record.
But Tegan Hammond of Honolulu said that steering an outrigger canoe helped her become the fourth member of her family to drive over 300 miles per hour on the Bonnevillle Salt Flats.
"When you are sitting in the back [of a canoe], you have to look far down in front of you," she said. "It's the same thing as driving a car."
In fact, when she was backing up her qualifying time this week for an average of just over 302 miles per hour to set a record in the A gasoline lakester class, Hammond said she did not even look at the speedometer, instead preferring to look out on the vast expanse of salt to see what was ahead of her.
The number 77 car, owned and built by Tegan's father Seth and based in California, has helped seven drivers into the prestigious 300 mile per hour club at Bonneville. Tegan joined mom Tanis, dad Seth and brother Channing in earning the blue hat that signifies membership in the club. Brother Colin was on the salt this year, but hasn't made an attempt.
"I'll drive when they say I can," he said.
Other drivers Lee Gustafson, Roy Oberst and Jeannie Pflum, who were all on hand, also drove the No. 77 over 300 miles per hour.
"Who passes this up?" said Tegan, who got her license and hit 294 miles per hour in her Salt Flats debut last year. "This is such a huge part of our family. You don't get it until you are actually here hearing all the engines on the starting line."
Seth Hammond said Gustafson brought him to Speed Week in 1965 as a crew member. He tells stories about meeting famous motorcyclist Burt Munroe. The two were also here when Anthony Hopkins was making the movie "The World's Fastest Indian" about Munroe. They were impressed when they ran into the actor in a Wendover cafe and he came over to meet them because they were drivers. Gustafson is a walking encyclopedia on the event, having first come here in 1959.
Seth said he likes coming to the Salt Flats because it's a strange combination of nature and mechanics, two things he is passionate about. He also loves the people who drive here. When he crashed driving 325 miles per hour in 2003, he said he could not believe the outpouring of support and offers of help he received.
One example of friendships was the fact that Tegan Hammond cheered on Rhonnie Vesco, daughter of Salt Flats legend and Utahn Rick Vesco, a year ago when she hit 310 miles per hour.
"We say we have fast dads and fast daughters," said Jinx Vesco, as the Vesco crew was trying to get Eric Ridder of New York City into the record book with a 323-mph run.
Mom Tanis Hammond said she was not nervous when she joined the 300 mile per hour club and was proud of her daughter.
"She did such an amazing job driving," said Tanis, "She was very focused."
Speed Week ends Friday. It drew more than 500 entrants from 12 countries and nearly every state, according to JoAnn Carlson of the Southern California Timing Association, which sponsors the 64th annual event. As of Wednesday, 125 land speed records had been broken. Other than a broken collarbone, there have been no serious injuries or crashes.