No land-speed records will be set in Tooele County this week.
The hundreds of souped-up cars and speed-hungry drivers will stay at home. Hotel rooms and restaurants won’t see their annual spike in business.
In short, Speed Week is off.
The same heavy monsoon-like rains this summer that have been good for yards and gardens has made the normally dry, Bonneville Salt Flats into a soupy mess unsuitable for racing, said Mike Manghelli, a member of the Southern California Timing Association, which sponsors Speed Week.
“Those storms that came through just flooded the place,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes sometimes with Mother Nature.”
While Speed Week, scheduled to run this year through Aug. 15, has occasionally had to be shortened because of inclement weather, Manghelli said this was the first time since 1994 that the event had to be called off completely.
However, he said, Speed Week was also canceled in 1993, and about a decade earlier. To have 20 years without a rained-out event has been somewhat unusual, he said.
Still, the cancellation is disappointing this year in particular, he added.
This year’s Speed Week would have been the 66th of its kind, and marked the 100th anniversary since the Salt Flats were first raced on in 1914. Manghelli said several drivers were planning on challenging the land speed record at the event, which would have increased the competition and excitement of the races.
“This year we had five or six cars that were going to be there that were all in contention for a record over 500 miles per hour,” he said. “It was just the perfect thing that they all came together and had their cars ready at the same time. It was going to be a very good meet.”
Speed Week is not the only event to hold races on the Salt Flats. The Utah Salt Flats Racers Association has scheduled its World of Speed racing event for Sept. 6-9. Although its event was rained out last year, the group remains hopeful that the salt will dry out enough for racing this year, said Ellen Wilkinson, secretary for the association.
“Usually it takes about 10 days for the water to go away on the salt, depending on water conditions,” she said. “Looking ahead, there are a couple of cells coming through, but history has indicated that it will be dry.”
The SCTA also has a second event, the World Finals, at the Salt Flats, scheduled this year from Sept. 30 to Oct. 3. Manghelli said racers have been understanding about the weather conditions, and organizers have their fingers crossed that early fall will be dryer than late summer.
“Most of the racers that have been there before; they understand there’s nothing we can control or do, that Mother Nature has a way of doing things and sometimes it’s not best for us,” Manghelli said. “We’re hoping it will stay dry for us.”