It's true, the 59th annual Bonneville Nationals was a record-setting event. By the time the official program went to press, 306 automotive pre-entries were already submitted! By the time the meet ended-seven hot days later-more than 500 car and bike entrants had paid Southern California Timing Association Treasurer Warren Bullis enough twenty-dollar bills for the privilege of making a record attempt on one of the two short/long, three-/five-mile combination courses that lead to Floating Mountain, so called because it appears to dance on the hazy horizon.

Oh yes, "attempt" is the right word. For instance, the Indy 500-mile race fields 33 mega-dollar entries on Memorial Day, but every so often one will fail to start, or at least stumble before taking off. The neophyte hot rodder, and even the well-experienced veteran, will occasionally face the same dilemma on the Bonneville Salt Flats. It's no mystery-it's called "racer's luck."

Ah, but the driver who successfully fires up on the starting line, or pulls away from the push vehicle a few hundred feet down course, secretly smiles, relaxes, and draws in a deep breath. He-or she-is likely to hold it in as long as the sojourn along the black, oiled line on the smooth, hard-packed straightaway lasts. This is the racer's delight!

If truth be known, most participants and spectators appreciate only the moment-whether they're racing or just watching. Of course, veterans of both genres know full well an event of this magnitude doesn't just happen on its own. Be that as it may, unless they have previously "toiled in the vineyards" themselves, they have a mind to only savor the here and now. But for those who tow the equipment out to the Flats, set up the timing and communications hardware, assemble the booths and tents, shore up the trailers, etc., it was a long week before the meet began.

On August 5, the five SCTA officers and the seven board and technical staff members gloomily gazed out over the acreage that contained the three previously surveyed courses slated for the 2007 event-and saw they were under water! That was the understated bad news. Fortunately, the equally understated good news was that the sun was shining and there were more than 100 dedicated volunteers ready, willing, and able to make the necessary moves to ensure a safe racing surface for the soon-to-appear land speed enthusiasts.

By Saturday morning, August 11, the day Speed Week was scheduled to start, the pits and alternate courses were ready, and the qualifying time trials were soon up and running. From then to the last record run on Friday, August 17, the hot rodders and bikers had every opportunity to see what they could do with their cherished, and frequently homemade, instruments of velocity. Even the professional Ford Motor Company engineers were given every chance to see what their experimental car-Hydrogen 999-could do. (They got to make six runs, with a best of 207 mph.)

I don't know if you'll someday get a chance to see a street-worthy Hydro in your local dealer's showroom, or even one of the regular ol' hot rods at a Street Rod Nationals sans Bonneville rubber. No matter, if you couldn't make it to the Salt this year, the accompanying photo display will at least give you a visual taste of the variety of top-end machines that perform every year for those stalwarts who do journey to the arid regions of western Utah and stand for hours in the blazing sun.

Oh, yes, I started this piece off mentioning "records." Well, I meant it-98 new Bonneville Nationals automotive land speed marks went into the SCTA books!