Bonneville Speed Week

August 2014

David G. Fox

The weather pattern shaping up over Utah in the latter part of July seemed a bit troubling. But all indications in the days leading up to Speed Week were that the salt was in very good shape. We know it can rain all around the Salt Flats -- it can even rain hard in the town of Wendover -- and not reach the area used for racing with enough force to bother. But then.... In the days just before the meet was to start, substantial rains hit the venue. On Saturday morning, the SCTA website ( announced the meet was canceled. Pictures from the site looked as if old Lake Bonneville might be coming back.

After successful testing during the USFRA event in July (317mph), Danny Thompson's updated Challenger II must wait for drier conditions.

The same waiting applies to this Studebaker built in Alabama by Johnson's Hot Rod Shop.

Not all the old Studebaker racers get the full aerodynamic treatment. For years, Bonneville has been one of the best places to see the old Loewy coupes, but under some level of modification, of course.

Yes, this is the same car pictured elsewhere on this site from a Grand National Roadster Show.

50 cc's of fast?

Although Speed Week was officially canceled on Saturday morning, enough folks were still around for a good "car show" that day. The annual gathering takes place at what was the Stateline, back when Mrs. Smith was ably running things in town. This is always a good time to see some interesting hot rods (mostly), renew acquaintances with people you only see here, and chat with other like-minded individuals. The show started earlier than usual and went just as late. Stories were swapped. Many were true.

We've seen this tribute Thunderbird at a couple of other events during the last year or so. This was the first time I was able to chat with the owner. A big early hemi with race-look fuel injection and a relatively modern four-speed automatic define the drivetrain. Sorting the electronics has yielded a nice reliable driver. The appearance of a '55 Thunderbird does not need modification, beyond the Mercury wagon taillights.

Obligatory 1932 Fords

How about 150 mph in a 1949 Merc? The car belongs to Kenny Kloth and lives in the Salt Lake City area. Kenny's ingenious flathead race motor is out now, in favor of a more street-friendly version.

Did someone remember to bring the chopping tools?

This 1957 Dodge pickup from Butte, Montana, is an every-day driver. Deeply channeled body and box, late hemi and five-speed stick, Chevy truck rear fenders with Dodge wheel well flairs make up the picture. The hemi sports dual fours on a Mopar Performance manifold. I'm not saying what the pair of air cleaners on the AFB's originally came from, but it's certain they add a fair amount to the overall value of the truck and give the engine a vintage vibe.

Ferrari Enzo. One never knows what might show up.


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