Fear and Loathing in Bonneville (My Trip to Speedweek)


After the inspection process, it was time to get in line to begin the licensing process. Since runs take several minutes, the line is pretty long and the wait painful. As a rookie, Chuck's first run had to be completed on the short couse. He was instructed to deploy the chute, and not exceed 150 mph.  As a crew, we also had to show that we could chase and recover the vehicle without doing something dangerous.  After the car starts its run, we have to pile in the truck and accelerate on the course, then cut onto a chase lane to follow the car to the finish, several miles away.  Licensing begins on the two mile short course and progresses to longer courses as the speeds increase. 
We buckled Chuck in and had the course control steward double check everything.  Safety is big here and every driver must pass this final inspection.
Since Chuck is a rookie the Steward took his time to review stuff.
Finally we were allowed to stage and wait for the start signal.  The black barrels marking the course are placed every 1/4 mile.  The vast whiteness makes it easy to lose your depth perception and some racers actually get lost and have to do an emergency stop.
Time to go, the result of over a year's work rolls off the starting line.
The little white speck is Chuck rocketing away.  He was gone, one of the fastest accelerating cars on the short course.  The S13 easily hit its test speed and Chuck clocked a 147 mph pass.  The chute worked perfectly.  Chuck reported that the car was very tricky to drive, fishtailing around and was especially difficult from 0 to 100 and from 140 mph up.  Chuck felt it was due to a lack of traction, not particularly suspension or aero issues.  Chuck reported that the salt was quite smooth like the freeway.  The smoothness kept our anticipated handling problems from materializing as the KW dampers were easily able to control the bumps that were encountered.  Future development will be centered around getting more forward traction and seeing how the car behaves at higher speeds.

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