Improved conditions on tap for Speed Week, which begins Saturday on the Salt Flats

Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune Salt conditions are improved and entries are up for Speed Week, which begins Saturday at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Bonneville Salt Flats • Southern California Timing Association officials have been busily preparing three courses on the Bonneville Salt Flats in anticipation of Speed Week.

The colorful annual event, which has been plagued by poor salt conditions and bad weather the past few years, will begin Saturday morning with inspections.

Time trials — which require two runs to record a record — may start as early as Saturday afternoon as speed enthusiasts from all over the world gather on the famous speedway east of Wendover and about 88 miles west of Salt Lake City.

SCTA spokesperson JoAnn Carlson said the number of preregistered entries is up from 418 to 433 this year with cars and drivers from Sweden, Denmark, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Russia, Ukraine, Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom preregistered.

Many of the top streamliners including Speed Demon, Turbinator and several new cars will be on the salt.

Turbinator, built by Utahn Rick Vesco, has been totally rebuilt this year. Team spokesperson Jinx Vesco said the famous car has been equipped with a new engine, gearing, driveline, chutes and frame modifications.

It will also feature a new paint job by Count’s Customs in Las Vegas, which will be filming for an episode of “Counting Cars” on the History Channel.

The Turbinator, which holds a longtime wheel-driven speed record, was damaged last year in a mishap that took out tires, body parts and the driveline.

Salt Flats historian Louise Noeth said other notable teams returning to Bonneville this year include Nolan White’s family, Keith Copeland’s Black Salt Racing Triumph, Carbliner and Italy’s Fabio Montani.

One longtime outfit that may not make it this year to Bonneville is Salt Lake City’s Royal Purple owned by the Nish family. Carlson hopes that car will it out for the World Finals later in the season.

Carlson said salt conditions are improved this year with the short and rookie courses in good shape, but more work is required on the long course for the fastest vehicles. She thinks that one should be in good shape come Saturday with crews still dragging it to make it smooth.

Spectators are welcome. Entry cost is $20 per person per day or $50 for the week. They are allowed to walk through the pits, view the vehicles and talk to drivers and crew members. Public parking is south of the pit area.

Race fans should bring binoculars, because the vehicles are at least a quarter-mile away when traveling down the course. Vendors sell food, refreshment, eyewear and souvenirs.

Racing begins near sunrise, with many record runs occurring early in the day. The course is closed at dusk. No one is allowed in the area after dark. Camping is allowed on BLM land near the entrance to the Salt Flats. There are also campgrounds in nearby Wendover.

Race results will be posted daily at scta-bni.org.