Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A racer throttles down the long course on the Bonneville Salt Flats during a past Speed Week.

August 9, 2018
Racing begins to heat up on the salt flats

Famous Speed Week to run Aug. 11-17 

Some race cars could reach speeds of 500 mph during Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover next week, said Pat McDowell, president of Southern California Timing Association.

“The salt is the best it’s been in years,” McDowell said. “I think five or six cars could go up to 500 mph out here.”

The president said dry weather and the pumping of 500,000 tons of salt from a nearby potash plant has improved salt conditions.

McDowell said Speed Week is SCTA’s biggest event of the year.

“We have 400 pre-entries and anticipate close to or more than 500 entries overall,” he said. “We expect dry weather and big crowds out here.”

Records in a variety of classes should be established, according to the president.

“There’s almost 100 various classes based on engine size, aerodynamics and other specifications — a class and record for everything,” McDowell said.

Machines are registered on Friday and Saturday and then make their speed runs this Saturday through Friday, Aug. 17.

The SCTA later will host World Finals on Oct. 2-5, but Speed Week is a much larger event, McDowell said.

“The weather is cooler and there is more chance of rain during the World Finals, so sometimes we’re down and not running as well. We call it our company picnic,” the president said.

The Utah Salt Flats Racing Association will hold its World of Speed event Sept. 14-17 at Bonneville.

The association did not have enough racers for its annual Test and Tune event in June, according to Dennis Sullivan, president of USFRA.

“We have been out to the salt and have been in contact with the SCTA people, and we all agree the salt is better than it has been in several years. It is smooth without any potholes,” Sullivan said.

“The salt appears to be quite hard but we will have to see how it holds up to the power that the cars apply,” he  said. “There is salt out to the 8-mile long course, but it is still thin and a little fragile.

“With the heat that is predicted the next couple of weeks, the salt will only get better,” he added. “Let’s hope Mother Nature holds off on the water from the sky.”

   Louise Ann Noeth, public relations officer for Save the Salt – Utah Alliance, said a lot will be learned  about the condition of the salt during Speed Week.

“We still really don’t know the thickness of the crust on portions of those long 8-9 mile courses,” Noeth said. “When we get all those cars and motorcycles and support vehicles out there we will know more.”

She said that with the continued dry weather there are less buckles in the salt normally created by moisture.

Access to the salt flats is via Exit 4 off of Interstate 80. A one-day pass is $15 per person and a one-week pass is $50 per person. Entry fees are collected at the end of the paved access road. 

Other racing events on the Bonneville Salt Flats this year include Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials, Aug. 25-30; USFRA World of Speed, Sept. 14-17; Mike Cooks’ 2018 Shootout on Sept. 20-24; and World Finals on Oct. 2-5.


Mark Watson

Sports Editor at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Mark directs all editorial coverage of sports in addition to reporting on a wide range of events from high school football to international racing. He has a wealth of journalism experience, having worked for four other newspapers in the state. Mark grew up in Tooele County and graduated from Grantsville High School and Brigham Young University.

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