After our Thursday morning driver's meeting it was time to get to Wendover and the Bonneville Salt Flats. It is just a two hour drive from Salt Lake City and everyone was very excited. Interstate 80 is a long straight road between Salt Lake City and Wendover. There are salt flats along almost the entire route. About 3 miles east of Wendover the signs for the Bonneville Speedway start to appear. After exiting the freeway it is about 3 miles to what is know as "the end of the asphalt". There is a sign that tells the history of the course. Here is where the salt begins for the spectators.
This year was an excellent year for the condition of the salt itself. It was dry and hard packed. If there had been any rain in the previous week the salt would have been sticky and we would have had to make a decision as to whether we would drive onto the salt. Because it was very hard packed and dry we all elected to drive on. The course is laid out each year by a crew from the Southern California Timing Association who actually is charge of the week's activities. We made our way out to the starting line. Vehicles of all types were lined up waiting for their turn to run down the 5 mile course. As we pulled up I realized that George Poteet was next in line to go in The Speed Demon streamliner which is owned by George and Ron Main. When George saw us he walked over to say hi and greet the group. George has participated in a number of Road Tours in the past and has become a good friend. He then pulled on his helmet and was buckled in the car. He was pushed off and headed down the course. As we heard the speaker announce that George went through the five mile mark at 400 MPH we could not believe our ears. We had witnessed the fastest run of the entire week and we had been on the salt for ten minutes!! It was truly a Road Tour moment.
The rest of Thursday we sat and watched as vehicles of all descriptions ran down the course. I stopped and said hello to car builder Alan Johnson who was helping Bob Johnson with his efforts of the salt. Some of the veteran Road Tourians had the foresight to bring some easy up tents and that kept us out of the sun. The temperatures were not too severe but the tents did help. Thursday evening we checked into to our hotels and then many of us got together for a final meal as a group.
Friday a number of hearty Road Tourians joined many others to see the sunrise at the course. It is quite an experience to stand on the famous course and watch the sun crest over the mountains. Friday was the day for the cars that had broken a record on their previous days pass to attempt to back up their time to make the run an official record. These cars had been "impounded" for Thursday evening and as dawn broke they were lead to the starting line to make their backup run. Unfortunately George Poteet had some mechanical problems on his second run and did officially make the 400 MPH average. He said that he would be back in September when the salt is again opened for runs on an even longer course.
By noon it was time for some group photos on the salt. While some of the Road Tourians had headed home earlier in the morning most were still present for the noon photos. It had been a great week on the Willy's Garage Tour. It was fun to have my wife Mary Ann along for the trip and her help and support during the week made my life much easier. She also took many of the photographs the we have posted here. Thanks to everyone who greeted us along the way. It was a great group that traveled from Louisville to Bonneville and as always, friendships were made that will last a lifetime.
The Willy's Garage Tour is number five in our 2009 Road Tour series. Just after Labor Day we will start the Classic Automobilia Tour in Kalamazoo at the NSRA Nationals North and head for the Northeast Nationals in Burlington, Vermont. I will then make a quick cross country trip to the San Diego area as we go from Escondido to the NSRA Golden State Nationals in Sacramento. The summer wraps up with a beautiful trip from Morrison Chassis in Fife, Washington to The NHRA California Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield on the NHRA Motorsports Museum Tour. Check here at the website for all the updates or call the Road Tour Hotline at 800-664-1362 for more details. I hope you can join us on a Road Tour.