August 23, 2017
Bonneville Speed Week happens once a year on the vast expanse of a desolate, dry lakebed about 100 miles west of Salt Lake City, Utah. The second you drive onto the salt it's easy to see why people try to break land speed records there. Every direction you look is a flat, all-white landscape that makes you want to just hit the rev limiter on what ever you are driving or riding. The ground is smoother than asphalt in most places and there are zero obstacles to avoid. In the early 1930s the SCTA (southern California timing association) turned the salt flats into the place for land speed records and Bonneville Speed Week was born. It doesn’t take much to turn the salt into a perfect drag strip. All the SCTA would do is find the smoothest one, three, and five-mile sections of the lake and then walk or ride scooters up and down the track to flatten out any bumpy spots and clearing any debris. There is a term that salt flat racers use called “salt fever” or the “salt bug” and almost everyone catches it. After one trip, you just want to go back every year, even if you’re not trying to break records. Just being out on the salt watching people pin the throttle on a machine they poured all their time and energy into is really exciting and inspiring. We definitely caught the salt bug this trip, and will be back every time we can. We met up with some of our good friends who’ve been chasing records in Bonneville for years. Wes White of Four Aces Cycles was riding a pre-unit Triumph in the 500cc Modified Partially Streamlined Vintage Fuel class, his girlfriend Kristine was on her pre-unit 650cc Modified Vintage Fuel class, and Johnny Surprise on his 1350cc Special Construction Blown Shovelhead. People bring all kinds of crazy vehicles out to try and push them to their absolute max. Everything from twenty foot long electric cars to single cylinder scooters. If it has a motor and wheels, there is a speed record set for it. Every person at the flats knows who holds the record they are going for, and there is always a sense of competition. Even with multiple people going after the same record year after year there was zero drama. The general vibe of the salt flats is treat people how you would want to be treated. We saw multiple people going from pit to pit asking for specific tools or help, and anyone that had the ability to help would do it without hesitation. Something about being out in the middle of nowhere trying to go as fast as you can just puts people in a friendly mood!