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In a break with tradition, the Lifetime Achievement Award, in the 2016 International Historic Motoring Awards, in association with Octane magazine and EFG private bank, went to a place and the events held there, rather than to a person. At a glittering gala dinner at London’s magnificent Guildhall, the highest accolade of the evening went to America’s Bonneville Salt Flats Land Speed Racing, in tribute to over 100 years of inspirational achievements in a unique location. The award is sponsored by Richard Mille.

Octaihma-logone Publishing Director Geoff Love explained: “For over a century the Bonneville Salt Flats have been the scene of innumerable speed record attempts. We all know of the successes there of George Eyston, John Cobb and Al Teague for example, but everybody from car and tyre manufacturers to college students with trucks powered by used vegetable oil have traveled to this vast expanse of land to try to set their own records. No other place has inspired so many people to such a level, and this award goes to the place itself and to all of those enthusiasts who have endeavored to take a minute, a second or a fraction of a second off a speed record there.”

Originally nominated by “LandSpeed” Louise Ann Noeth in the “Motorsport of the Year” category, the IHMA Judging Panel recognized the dire ecological plight facing amateur racing brought about by decades of BLM mismanagement that allowed the once five-foot thick, concrete hard salt crust to wither to an almost paper thin layer less than a half-inch in many places and elevated Bonneville to the group’s most prestigious honor.

bsf-surface-changeWe may well witness the end of land speed racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats in our lifetime,” warned Noeth, the acknowledged LSR author and historical expert. “Racing returned in 2016 after two years of rainouts that diluted the fragile crust to a point that many of the plus 300MPH speed machines chose to pack up and go home instead of risking a wreck. I am so very grateful for the recognition spotlight the IHMA has cast upon the home of so many extraordinary speed deeds by ordinary people.”

Celebrating ‘the best of the best’ in the international historic motoring industry, the Guildhall saw the great and the good of the industry come together from around the world to discover who had won the hotly-contested awards.

For a full list of category winners: www.historicmotoringawards.com.

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11 Nov, 2016  |  Written by  |  under Motorsports, Vintage Racing

Because  Sportscar Vintage Racing Association’s Tony Parella and Pam Shatraw saw fit to provide me with “All Access” credentials for the U.S. Vintage Racing National Championship November 2-6, 2016, me and my cameras had a fine ‘ole time capturing images of a segment of motorsports from whence I have been absent for years and years.

Big long sentence, eh? So how about I just show you and stop talking, eh?

Click on an image to get a better look. . . Forgive the amateur hour layout, I am clueless about making the coding bend to my will. New template is underway.

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3 Nov, 2016  |  Written by  |  under Journalism, Uncategorized

The long held hoimages-2pe of teenage left field bleacher bum was made manifest in Cleveland tonight.

Gone was Leo Durocher, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Billy Williams, Randy Hundley, Billy Williams, Ferguson Jenkins, Glen Beckett, Don Kissinger. . .

How the hell do you remember these things after nearly 50 years?

Because your little desperate fan heart so was so damn heartbroken when the season went into the toilet, aka the September swoon. I was there, in Wrigley Field,  the day the music died. No man could break my heart more than the Cubs that year. Not even the kind words from Ernie Banks whom I met years later on an airplane could assuage my sadness.

That sting was finally extinguished tonight, in the bottom of the 10th, after the rain delay when the miracle made its move and manager Madden finally smiled.

The best part was I got to walk all over St Louis today with my Cub shirt on –  in the afternoon, reminding any daft creature who tried to take a piece out of me that bird-watching was such a boring thing to do. Today I dared to have hope and today my Cubbies delivered. The nice guys finished first. On top.

And I couldn’t tell the name of any player in any position if my life depended on it. It’s been so long since I let my heart care.

Thanks boys. . . .images-62952bbc84443b853379e568f0ec0f02c

16 Oct, 2016  |  Written by  |  under Aviation, land speed racing, Motorsports

usafa-sae-teamThis fall I was delighted tousafa-sae be invited to speak to the United States Air Force Racing Team at the Colorado Springs Academy. I brought a presentation that gave the cadets a serious historical to present day look at land speed racing using my own photography, as well as a number of evocative vintage views going back to the 1st race in 1914.  The idea was to expose them to a segment of motorsports where free-thinking gives rise to fresh ideas and new ways to solve problems — all tempered with unshakeable sense of purpose where the power of a given idea can only end where it reaches frutiion.

A little while later, this letter and photos arrived.

Click on each letter to read what they shared. The other letter was in response to my previous lectures at the Academy that resulted in a Creative Research & Development Agreement between my company, LandSpeed Productions and the USAFA.  Together we — the cadet, faculty , land speed racers completed nearly 30 projects that made racers faster and safer out on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

My favorite take away is the feathered crew member in the team shot! After any visit, there is always a sustained “high” from hanging with a gang of America’s finest who live over-achieving on a daily basis.  I’ll continue to go back as long as they keep inviting me!usafa-ltr-buckley

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Copyright “LandSpeed” Louise Ann Noeth  All Rights Reserved  DO NOT  copy or link with prior written permission.


The 68th running of Speed Week, August 13-19, hosted by the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) was a mixed bag of success. Land speed racing was back after a forced, two-year weather-induced hiatus and the bulging pit area was abuzz with warming engines.

Speed Week 2016 Production Pick-up with a vintage powertrain. Richard Smiths, red ’65 Plymouth Barracuda

The racers were ready, but the salt crust? Not as much. Its bumpy surface was marginally thin in many places leading many to stand down, or depart early. Smaller, lighter machines struggled with what veteran record-setting motorcyclist Joe Amo termed “greasy.”

Going tot he Bonneville Salt Flats and NOT getting up before dawn at least one day is the dumbest thing you could do in Wendiover, Utah during Speed Week 2016. The weather was picture perfect all week, too bad the salt wasn’t the same. Of the 450 pre-entries, nearly half put the speed machine back on the trailer after trying to make a speed run without seat sucking drama. Going to the Bonneville Salt Flats and NOT getting up before dawn at least one day is the dumbest thing you could do in Wendiover, Utah during Speed Week 2016. The weather was picture perfect all week, too bad the salt wasn’t the same. Of the 450 pre-entries, nearly half had put their speed machine back on the trailer after trying to make a speed run without seat sucking drama. Bonneville is like a patient in the Intensive Care Unit that just woke up, needs to get better, and perform serious rehab if land speed racing is to survive.

Going to the Bonneville Salt Flats and NOT getting up before dawn at least one day is the dumbest thing you could do during Speed Week 2016.

Bigger, heavier cars, grappled with vision gutting high-speed vibration. Traction control systems went berserko-wacky and the emanating staccato sound waves wrinkled brows from starting line to shut-off. Belly pans were sacrificed to the recycling bin with regularity.

These amateur racers often demonstrate more resolve than the paid motorsport crowd and don’t give up easily. Bonneville is the largest expanse of serene nothingness with which a person might ever bond. One visit stays with you for a lifetime; it’s cerebral magnetism on overdrive.

Once you’ve had the supreme pleasure of rolling with conviction over pristine saline – never mind setting a speed record – a spark of divinity is exposed and I don’t mean inside a cylinder.

Bonneville racing has been described as “the last vestige of the Wild West” where all the ponies are now under the hood. In addition to Speed Week, there are four other events: World of Speed, Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials, Cook Shoot Out and World Finals, with the occasional private event.

Speed Week 2016 attracted 418 pre-entries, down from 550 in 2013, with an estimated 72 on-site registrations bringing the total to some 490 entries. The final tabulated number will be larger once class changes (eg. gas to fuel) and additional drivers are factored into event totals.

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A modest 68 car records were set all week. Further evidence of feeble salt is found in the unrealized potential: only 2 cars set records above 400MPH: Speed Demon’s Racing Team’s 416 record in Class B/BFS Class and Thompson LSR inked a 411 mark in Class AA/FS. Noteworthy is that the single, smaller Speed Demon turbocharged engine out ran the pair of Thompson’s 2,500HP nitro HEMI V8’s. All engine man Ken Duttweiler’s fault – again. The lone plus 300 record came through the Ferguson family streamliner 349MPH in Class B/FS. A mere 17 records were set in the 200MPH range with all the rest south of that.

George Poteet, driving his brand spanking shiny new Speed Demon recorded Top Time of the meet with a blistering 442MPH one-way run to earn the Hot Rod Magazine Trophy for the 6th straight year in a row. He told me that he is done for the year thanks to jackhammer quivering from the surface that limited his clear vision to 1/4 mile. Consider the speeds he whistles along at, and then decide if you have matching tenacity – it takes a minimum of two runs to set a national record. speed-demon-hrm-trophy-2016

Only 8 other cars ran above 300 MPH, five of which were capable of plus 400MPH speeds — a glaring testament to the lousy surface thanks to years of failed recreational management plans administered by the Bureau of Land Management in this writer’s opinion.

Target 550, the streamliner of Marlo Treit and Les Davenport (driver) came to a controlled stop some 9 miles down course and one-half mile off the active track when both ring slot parachutes failed. Overall, nine drag chutes were completely destroyed in four runs due to the salt crystals being hard enough now to penetrate the nylon chutes.

Smaller, slower cars were the big winners this year with 48 inking a spot in the record books starting with Kaylin Stewart, 18, who became the youngest female to earn life membership in the Bonneville 200MPH Club recording a 224MPH record driving the Jesel Valvetrain Dodge pickup.

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SW2016 Target 550, the streamliner of Marlo Treit and Les Davenport (driver) came to a controlled stop some 9 miles down course and one-half mile off the active track when both ring slot parachutes failed. Treit suspects the canopy size is too small for the 8,000 pound car now approaching the 400 MPH threashold on its way to the magic 550 mark. The inset photo shows the complete shredding of the once perfect parachute. “Whooping” is just as important as going,” once astutely said the late Don Vesco who even in death reigns top dog for wheel-driven cars with his 458MPH set in 2001. Nearly a dozen cars are after his title in 2016, but the lack of solis safe salt has all the fast folks being particularly careful after a 2-year absence due to bad weather coupled with the already super thin crust due to decades of mserable stewardship by the Bureau of Land Management. The racers have engaed elected officals on the state and fedral levels about getting the historic place restored before it is mined bare.

Dan Haugh from Lawrence, Kansas, had as much fun setting his 140MPH record driving a resurrected 1981 Saab Turbo, aka, “The Panda” as Poteet. Arriving home, wife Jay had adorned the front porch colonnade with a bright metallic “Congratulations” banner and inside waiting was a three foot high helium-filled silver trophy flanked with further proffering’s of praise and adulation.

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Then there was Team McLeish Bros. who brought the modified Triumph Spitfire and SilverRod motorcycle streamliner to play with – emphasis on play as these guys are ALWAYS in a good mood! Setting 5 records, 2 car and 3 motorcycle, one used the same Indian engine once used by salt icon Burt Munro (World’s Fastest Indian) but because the record was in another class the venerated New Zealander’s mark remains intact.

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The college-inspired Greenspeed Research Racing Team wins for the best pit improvement — a solar charge station. They wired up a single solar panel to a couple Odyssey Batteries and had silent power for the entire event. All the computers, phones, cordless tools, et al, were topped up effortlessly. The loudest thing in the 200MPH Dodge Ram on veggie oil Greenspeed pit was their neighbor’s generator. The team’s diesel pickup officially became the first vehicle on planet earth to drive past 200MPH on 100% veg oil!

The salt got Congressional attention from a team representing the US House of Representatives and Utah Governor Hebert’s office of Public Lands Policy. While on-site, the group saw irrefutable visual evidence of contributing causes that the LSR community squarely places on the BLM’s shoulders. All were duly amazed at how often the written documentation matched what they were observing — Bonneville’s salt crust that was once measured in feet is now less than an inch.

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Land Speed Racers not only serious about their racing at Speed Week 2016, but invited members of the US Congress to come out from Washington DC for a presentation of disturbing mis-management by the Bureau of Land Management overt ha past 45 years! Here Save the Salt Board member Larry Volk wails away with pick hammer demonstrating what the hardness ought to offer a safe racing surface. There is very little of “primo” salt crust at the moment, with each passing hot, sunny day, the desiccation process adds a smidgen more crust than the day before. Without government intervention, the racing is in red alert mode. With specatacular help from the SEMA staff in Washington, DC, racers have been told a bill will soon be introduced in the House of Representatives addressing the deplorable federal management practices. A couple of days prior, Utah Governor Herbert’s Director of Public Lands Policy, Cathleen CLarke spent 9 hours on the salt familiarizing herslf with current conditions and racer observations. Left to Right: Cam Madsen, Congressman Stewart Mike Swenson, lobbyist Dennis Sullivan, USFRA PResifnet, Utah Alliance Chair Barry McLerren, Congreswoman Mia Love Erin Sills, Save the Salt BOD Gary Webster, Congressman Stewart Gordon Larsen, Congressman Stewart Rick Vesco, racer, Utah Alliance Ron Kirby, Utha Alliance Larry Volk with pick, Save the Salt,

 

An important point to understand about Bonneville racing that it is a family connected by passion, not necessarily DNA, it’s the single most enduring reason land speed racing remains vibrant more than 80 years later. They all recognize that together they can do something phenomenal that is otherwise impossible for the average person.

According to Judy Sights, SCTA Workers Coordinator and “dorm mother” (she has all the room keys) 160 volunteers worked an average

of 10 hours per day for 7 days, some 11,200 hours donated to hold the event, and an additional 2,400 hours of set-up and tear down by 50 volunteers laboring 12 hours per day for 4 days.

“I am looking forward to going back to work where I won’t have to work as many hours in a given day,” said racer turned volunteer Jeff Bryant.

But wait, there’s more! Understand that some 50 people plan Speed Week and World Finals working a minimum of 2 hours per day from mid-March to the moment tech inspection opens in August, about 150 days and 15,000 additional hours. Every year since 1949.Carbiliner-bumper-sticker

From the posted daily run data, the rookie and short courses managed to accommodate a healthy 1,450 runs and 14 spinouts over the seven days. Restricted to 175MPH and slower over two timed miles, the Rookie course has only one timed mile.

Long course (175MPH and above) runs are timed over 3 flying miles and saw only 700 runs completed. Not a lot, but each run does take much longer to start, run and complete. Each time the 26 racers spun themselves out, the track was shutdown until the car was cleared and track was declared safe.

Overall, there was a vehicle spin about every 54th run, with more than 100 turn-outs – racers aborting the run either due to mechanical problems or simply not comfortable with current track conditions.

The latter was doubtless a big factor as the pits were nearly half empty by Tuesday morning with clear evidence of many more packing up, but hanging around to visit.

Salt safety sentinels reported only one injury accident despite conditions. Chris Procter, a motorcyclist from the UK’s Isle of Man went down and broke his leg in four places. The rider and bike are back home, and told SCTA officials he is already making plans to return in 2018.

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When you consider that the Bonneville Salt Flats have hosted thousands of average “nobodys” who became “somebodys” by setting a record with their hand-built speed machine you begin to understand the value of such a place.

Those with a dream built it into reality then proved in front of God and the watching world that their idea had merit. How do you value a chance to live large, to honestly savor personal success?

sw2016-young-honda-engineersHonda_MiyagiThis family-based sport continues to welcomes anyone with a “can do” attitude, encourages innovations in science, technology, engineering and transportation safety. This year, automaker Honda showed up with a streamliner built through it “Young Associate Development Program” beating down one obstacle after another to set a pair of world records by the season’s end.

Grandmothers and granddads have eschewed rocking chairs for racecars driving safely, repeatedly and gloriously in excess of 250MPH. Families thrive here.

From the first race in 1914, racers understood the tremendous motorsports value of the salt beds, they recognized its matchless natural surface as a place where speed

was dependent on the amount of courage drivers found when applying the throttle.

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Note: Because CNN’s Ann O’Neill was either too lazy, too biased to ask, I am volunteering to bail her out from what, in my opinion, is lapse in professional journalistic judgement. Specifically, a correction to the unattributed quote she included in her otherwise fine, well crafted report that denigrated long-time racer George Poteet:

George and three of his Speed Demon crew members arrived before the 2016 Speed Week and labored at least 8 hours per day for 3 days performing all the menial sweat work to set-up the pits, race course and inspection areas.

So now you know where George Poteet was. They all refused to accept any meals, or per diem normally offered by SCTA.

Oh, and Ann dear, would you please fact check me when I tell you that there have been dozens of racing parts George has given away to other racers in need over the years? I am sure those racers would be willing to give you some  facts about how many records got set because of his help. You might also want to fact check how Andy Nish learned to drive a race car – in a roadster George loaned his family. And certainly fact check how much direct assistance he has provided year after year to the various sanctioning bodies.

For that matter, you might ask George himself any number of things; he’s a gracious southern gentleman who would make time for you even if you were a cub content provider from a high school newspaper. Did you even bother to go introduce yourself before you chose to spit on his reputation?

Speed Demon SW 2016 6th straight year winning HRM Trophy George Poteet owner/driver

 

 

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