Family, land-speed racing community mourn driver Bryant
Wendover » A driver killed at the Bonneville Salt Flats was "a prince" who had passion for history and nature in addition to land-speed racing, his cousin said Monday.
Barry Bryant, 46, of Anderson, Calif., was fatally injured Sunday at 5:55 p.m., when his car went out of control and crashed during Speed Week.
Bonneville National Inc. officials said Bryant's car was traveling about 200 mph when the accident occurred.
After being taken from the track in an ambulance, he was transported to the Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, but he died before reaching the hospital.
Bryant was the youngest son of longtime Salt Flats racer Tom Bryant of Redding, Calif. His brothers, Dan and Jeff, also drove for Bryant Racing.
The three brothers all worked in the family automotive business that Tom Bryant and his wife founded 50 years ago.
"Those boys were partners with their mom and dad," said Kathryn Lindstrand, Bryant's cousin.
According to Lindstrand, Bryant has been driving race cars for over 30 years. Land-speed racing was "the bond -- the glue -- that held the family together."
Her voice breaking, Lindstrand said Bryant was "just a prince of a person. ... He was more like a brother to me than a cousin. To know him was a privilege. That's what makes this so hard."
Away from the family business and the race track, Bryant's interests included history, panning for gold in the mountains near his home and mentoring youngsters as a Master Cub Scout.
A local historical society in California had just informed Bryant of plans to publish a story he had written about covered wagons.
"He was very excited about that," Lindstrand said. "... He was a history buff and a real nature boy."
Bryant and his wife did not have children, but his love of the outdoors was partly responsible for a lifelong commitment to scouting.
"He big-brothered boys all his life," Lindstrand said. "He was always teaching kids camping, knot-tying and kyacking -- things like that. ... Barry would do anything for anybody. He didn't have a mean bone in his body."
The family has not received any word on what caused the accident that killed Bryant, and Lindstrand believes they might never know.
"If anyone could have prevented something this, it was Barry," she said. "But things happen so darn quick in the cockpit of a race car."
Mark Goodfellow is a crew member for a land-speed race team owned by his father, Lynn, of Boulder City, Nev.
Their car, the Mormon Missle, has reached a speed of 315 mph on the Salt Flats.
According to Goodfellow, driver safety is "the first thing" track officials check when drivers show up for Speed Week.
"It's very much at the top of the list," he said. "That's why they perform a very thorough [pre-race] inspection, with a minimum of three inspectors. They go over every car very, very carefully. And you have to meet the safety criteria or you don't get out on the salt."
Goodfellow says the reaction in the pit area after the death of a driver is "pretty severe. It's not an issue very often but, when it is, it's a difficult thing to deal with."
Asked what can go wrong for a driver at such blistering speeds, Goodfellow said, "You never know. Maybe a gust of wind. Maybe a little something on the track -- just a bump. Maybe a little suspension trouble. There are so many variables with this type of racing -- with any type of racing, really."
In the hours after the accident, the Bryant family has been overwhelmed by the reaction of friends, neighbors and the land-speed racing community.