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World of Speed draws Salt Flats racers

Published September 3, 2014 1:24 pm

Streamliners • Drivers seek elusive 500 mph mark.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The fickle nature of late summer Utah weather coupled with the unusual geography of the Bonneville Salt Flats always make running land speed trials on the famous speedway just east of Wendover a crapshoot.

Since Speed Week was cancelled in August for the first time since 1994 due to too much water on the course, many of the top teams began searching for the next big event. That would be the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association's World of Speed, which is scheduled to begin Thursday when the pits open and inspection and registration begins.

The first racing is scheduled Saturday just after 8 a.m. Racing will begin at 8 a.m. Sunday through the last day of the event Tuesday, weather permitting.

According to USFRA secretary Ellen Wilkinson, conditions for this event – which was cancelled last year due to rain – look good and 150 teams have pre-registered, a large number for what is traditionally a smaller event than Speed Week, where close to 550 were expected to compete before being rained out.

"It's really drying out fast," she said. "We have had two trucks dragging all day and just send a third one out."

The weather report indicates clear skies through Monday, when a thunderstorm could hit.

"Last year, we dragged and were ready to go," said Wilkinson. "Then we were hit with a storm. It kept raining and didn't stop...There is a little water at the end of the road and it is going away. The courses are dry and the pits are out of the water."

There is major interest in the Bonneville land speed trials this year because a number of streamliner teams think they can hit the elusive 500 mile per hour mark, something a piston-driven vehicle has yet to accomplish.

For example, Team Vesco will be bringing up the Turbinator, which holds the current record, from Rockville. Spokesperson Jinx Vesco said the team thinks it has some of the bugs worked out of the vehicle from a year ago.

Salt Lake City's Nish Racing is scheduled to compete as his Danny Thompson, who will bring his late father Mickey's famed Challenger II back.

Wilkinson said Poteet and Main's Speed Demon, always a Speed Week favorite, had not registered yet but could still do so.

The event is open to the public and spectators. General admission is $20 per person or $50 for the week, with discounts offered to seniors, handicapped, current military and scout troops. Kids under 12 are free.

For information, log on to http://www.saltflats.com.

The Southern California Timing Association, which sponsors Speed Week, has expanded its annual World Finals event to include Speed Week. It is scheduled September 27 through October 3.

wharton@sltrib.com

Twitter @tribtomwharton

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