Chuck’s Bonneville Adventure Part 2


WTF, the race course is under water

Like Las Vegas, Wendover’s casinos have the standard all you can eat buffets.  After a day on the salt, the call of all you can eat stuff was strong and we tore into the huge repast with eyes bigger than stomachs.  After suffering from indigestion for the rest of the evening, and listening to Big Tom’s hilarious crank calls for the front desk, room keeping and other hotels service lines, we turned in for some much needed sleep setting our alarms so we could return to the course at 0 dark 100. Awaking and driving out to the track before dawn, we were met with a dismal surprise.  Bonneville raceway had overnight become Lake Bonneville.  Apparently due to the salts smoothness, the slightest amount of water can cover the whole area. The area is also apparently the lowest point for miles so every bit of water runoff converges in this area.  The entire salt flats were covered by a few inches of salty brine, miles and miles of it.  Although watching the sun rise over this mountain rimmed reflecting pool was a beautiful, awesome sight, it was still disappointing.  We wanted to race and it was painfully obvious that there would be no more racing here this year.  All of the work, suffering and travel were for naught, at least for this year anyway.

The haunting beauty of the submerged race track, beautiful except for the fact that the entire race course is indeed under about 3 inches of water
Big Tom braves the briny deep with his beater G20 in the quest to recover our pit equipment

Retrieving our gear which was now submerged under salt water about a mile away from the new shoreline was an adventure in itself.  Big Tom bravely offered up his beater G20 as the sacrificial boat/car needed to retrieve our stuff out in the highly corrosive, electrolyte laden pool of brine that was now lake Bonneville.  In the first attempt to get our equipment, Tom threw caution to the wind and tried to sail through the brine at high speeds.  About ¼ mile out in the lake, the G20’s electrical system started to malfunction and the car sputtered and jerked. Fearing an unrecoverable stall in the middle of the lake, the mission was aborted and the car barely made it back to dry land under its own power.

Annie Sam
Annie looks at the giant reflecting pool of lake Bonneville
Big Toms U Boat barely returns under its own power.  The salt probably took many years off of its useful service life

After the abused G20 dried out it seemed willing to run again and once again Tom risked the trip out to the pits, this time more cautiously.  This time he made it OK and he successfully recovered all of the pit equipment and tools.  The poor G20’s life probably got shortened by a few years from its dunk in the world’s biggest salt spray corrosion tester but it made it back home running only slightly strangely with a only few added vibrations and misfires.

We were disappointed and quiet on the long ride home but on the way we decided that we would return next year, better prepared.

This year Chuck and Annie returned to the salt, with more experience and with better weather.  Both Chuck and Annie succeeded in obtaining there SCTA  licenses and secured a spot in the 130 mph club with passes of 135 and 139 mph successively.  Then spots in the 150 mph club for Chuck and Annie were easily secured by the mighty Sentra with passes of 155 and 158 mph for Chuck and 153 and 159 mph for Annie. Only 7 new members were indoctrinated into the 150 mph club this year.

For the 150 mph club a maximum tech speed of 160 mph is allowed and the Sentra was capable of going much faster but the throttle was feathered to not exceed the tech speed and hence be disqualified.

Although these speeds might seem unimpressive, if you go to the USFRA web site you can see the many impressive cars that were unable to qualify for the 150 mph club.  The salt flats high altitude and extreme temperatures thin the air and the salt has quite a bit of rolling resistance.  These factors slow a car considerably.  If the Sentra was rocked on its full rated 20 psi of boost and allowed to rev to 8000 rpm it would have probably topped out at a gear limited speed of around 170 mph.

Thanks to Chuck’s sponsors and those who worked overtime to make this trip possible.

Big Tom’s Garage
Afterhours Automotive
Jim Wolf Technology
Eibach Springs
JE Pistons
Westend Alignment
Hose Techniques
Innovate Motorsports
Annie Sam

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