Carbinliner leaves Bonneville starting line

Age is superfluous at Bonneville. Young or old, it is all the same: wide-eyed wonder of a regal place constantly swirled with a riot of color, cackling thunder ripping out of homebuilt metal magic and the indescribable feeling of being so incredibly lucky to be there, to take part, to bear witness to the heart of motorsport still so pure and so welcoming.

 

You marvel that it exists at all.

That’s what coming to the Bonneville Salt Flats for the first time does to most everyone. It doesn’t matter what you might have read, heard, been told or watched, the real deal is a gargantuan knockout. Some freely admit this while others pretend not to be affected.

Oh, but pity those liars in denial for they rob themselves of pure joy, of being immersed in the saline speed dimension. Such people remind me of some teenagers that are so wrapped up in image and showing off the latest trendy thing that life’s most important parts rocket past them.

Forget the speed machines for a moment and simply consider the place. It is such a place that astronauts use the salt’s splendid immensity and stark, shimmering whiteness as a landmark whilst orbiting the earth.

Such a place that if you get your butt up and out of bed before the sun and manage to be present for the fiery orb’s awakening then you will be treated to unexpected grandeur, a brain-stretching vista that often invokes a dose of humanity humility wrapped up in a personal outpouring of thankfulness.

There is something inviting about being reduced, put in your place, made to understand how stinking small and insignificant you are in relationship to the planet. It made me feel honored to be there and later, it made me very protective of the place which is why I am intensely annoyed with the BLM for not being likewise invested.

If you drive out from Salt Lake City you get a good sense about the place as it requires you cross the salt to arrive at the access point just outside Wendover UT/NV – take your pick there are two of them with the state line painted right down the main drag.

If you have lots of coin, and few brains, you can try to access the salt from the interstate but make sure you have cell coverage or a working CB because when you get stuck you will be stuck like nothing else you’ve ever encountered.

Spinning your wheels only drives the vehicle deeper into the plastic-like mud that has been trapping things since well before the Conestoga wagons got mired. The salt flats are thick in the middle but thin out to practically nothing on the edges.

And yes, it is salt, just like the stuff that comes out of the shaker at home. Taste it. Most everyone does whether they admit it or not.

Driving in the from the south, on Highway 93, is a ‘peek-a-boo’ way to see the salt as the mountains rise and fall giving you only a hint of the place here and there along the road until it opens up and wows you as you near the Wendovers. The most dramatic way for salt virgins is from the West as the Silver Island mountain range blocks the view of the salt until you pass through the Wendovers and take the #1 exit.

sunrise on the salt Sadly, the roadside dramatic reveal has somewhat withered. The immense salt playa has shrunk, the bright white salt that once hugged either side of Interstate 80 is patchwork now, dirty in other spots mixed with the mud, or absent altogether and the ubiquitous sagebrush has moseyed back onto the plain.

I’ve seen this happen in just the past 20 years, but worry not, there is plenty left to astound you and for most racers to try their luck upon. Let’s talk about those racers, those wonderful, marvelous, inventive amateur folk who put on the best damn mechanical circus in the whole wide world.

Know this: You can be one too. Yes. You can earn a time slip driving your own car, truck, or bike at some events. Just try that at Indy or Daytona.

I don’t care if you don’t know a spark plug from a wheel hub, walking through the pits and staging lanes up to the starting line is a visual treat on multiple levels. Watching the speed machines roll off on a run, or flash through the mile-markers is an eye-candy spectacular. Lucky you if you get to see a parachute blossom.

There are hundreds of cars, trucks and motorcycles in race ready form, each the dearly held dream of someone about to face the truth of the timing clocks.

None of these speed machines come to the salt all by their lonesome. Each has a team, a few are big deals, but most are a small gatherings of like-minded speed hopefuls who will be delighted to tell you darn near anything you might want to ask of them.

This is the core of land speed racing, what gives the sport its fantastic edge over every other form of motorized competition on the planet: the people!

Be bold, walk up astarting line aerialnd introduce yourself, ask them about the machine, who designed it, built it, drives it and THEN ask how fast it goes.

This is a welcoming sport in an inhospitable place. Be assured, it experience will last long after you return to “normal” life. If you experience an unexplained sadness or sense of loss, you have been afflicted with “salt fever” and the only way to medicate away the symptoms is to return as soon as possible.

May 29, 2017 – Speedway, IN – Winners of the All American Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association National Competition were announced just prior to the 100th running of the Indy500. Entries were judged “blind,” no judge was aware of the writer or where the work was published. The works sent for judging were published in the 2016 calendar year.

FIRST | Magazine Feature Writing | New Age: Powering Today’s Youth Market | PRI Magazine AUG 2016

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FIRST | Magazine Column Writing | Law & Order: Inside Rulemaking | PRI Magazine April 2016

APR2016_Rules_PRI

FIRST | Photography – People | “Oh No, Not Again” | www.powerperformancenews.com
FIRST | Photography – Print Action | “Velocity Victory: Don Vesco Sets World Record” | 
Position Paper for Save the Salt and Utah Alliance

SECOND | Online – Feature Report | “Slower Going at this Year’s Bonneville Speed Week” |  www.hemmings.com

https://www.hemmings.com/blog/?p=712282

SECOND |Photography – Action | “How to Shred a “Chute North of 375MPH” | www.hemmings.com

https://www.hemmings.com/blog/?p=712282

THIRD | Online – Technical Report | “Supersonic Truth Telling” | www.theengineer.co.uk

https://www.theengineer.co.uk/land-speed-record-progress-from-before-computers-to-after-digitisation/

“There are serious in-roads being made to encourage children to consider motorsports as a career, in addition to simple enthusiasm,” said Noeth providing background on the work. “Those who made it to the top recognize the difficulties made all the more tougher without basic guidelines. That is changing, and youngsters are getting practical help. Rule making is a thankless, essential job from which racers would derive more benefit by simply contributing to the process.

At Bonneville, its hard NOT to get a great shot, but its all for naught unless you can share the moment with other eyeballs. This girl is very grateful to Shawn Brereton at Xceleration Media Group and Dan Strohl at Hemmings for the space and recognizing the hard-charging amateur racers. The cover shot of the late Don Vesco has sadly come to represent the last time land speed racers had a safe, long course upon which to race. At the time, it wasn’t the type of history I figured that I would be recording. The exuberance of the moment is steadily morphing into speed eulogy for the beloved international speedway. ”

The American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) is the oldest and largest organization devoted to auto racing coverage. Founded in 1955 in Indianapolis, AARWBA has members throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

To encourage excellence in the coverage of motor sports, AARWBA media members submit their best work for the annual media contest. Categories are for written, broadcast, online and photographic work. Winners present a true testament to the growth of the sport of auto racing.

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

May 28, 2016– Speedway, IN – Winners of the 2015 All American Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) National Competition were announced in the IMS Media Center prior to the 100th running of the Indy500. Photojournalist Louise Ann Noeth earned a pair of First-Place awards and an Honorable Mention.

1st | Newspaper Feature Writing
The Inner Workings of Motorsports Sponsorship | Performance Racing Industry

1st | Magazine Technical Writing
Rotors, Pads and Calipers | Performance Racing Industry

Honorable Mention | Photography – Print People
“454 to 0 in Only 2 Miles” | Gearheads For Life

“ The past year has been spent focused on getting the Bonneville Salt Flats restored as well as getting comfortable writing from the business angle for PRI Magazine,” explained Noeth, “Both presented serious challenges to updating skill sets that kept me slightly uncomfortable all year long. I like it that way.”

Noting that PRI Magazine’s Dan Schechner and Meredith Kaplan-Burns are the kind of pros you want editing your work, she added, “They demand clarity, provide comprehensive assignment direction and stay connected throughout the process ensuring that readership is the ultimate winner. And a special “shout out” goes to Tim Cindric who graciously shared his business acumen that set the baseline for the sponsorship piece.

As for the photography nod, she wrapped up with: “Too bad still photos are silent because my shot of Tom Burkland’s Bonneville Streamliner always reminds me of the nervous “ping, ping, ping” of the screaming-hot engine parts cooling under the hand-formed aluminum body work.”

2015 AARWBA win_ 411 spent chutes

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Founded in 1955, AARWBA is the oldest and largest organization devoted to auto racing coverage with members throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. To encourage excellence in the coverage of motor sports, AARWBA media members submit their best work for the annual media contest. Categories are for written, broadcast, online and photographic work. Winners present a true testament to the growth of the sport of auto racing. All magazine and newspaper judging is performed by an independent panel from a major journalism school. Entries — published in the 2015 calendar year — were judged “blind,” no judge was aware of the writer or where the work was published.
Judges: Photography – Prof. Emeritus Susan Fleck, Pulliam School of Journalism, Franklin College, Indiana; Magazine & Newspaper Writing – Prof. Emeritus Jerry Miller, Pulliam School of Journalism, Franklin College, Indiana and AARWBA Contest Chairman

Read the Winning Entries:
Feature Writing — www.landspeedproductions.biz/wp-content/uploads/PRI_NOV2015_Sponsorship.pdf
Technical Writing — www.landspeedproductions.biz/wp-content/uploads/AUG2015PRI_Brakes_edited.pdf
Complete listing of 2015 winners: www.aarwba.org

10 Apr, 2016  |  Written by  |  under Uncategorized

This car announced itself with cacophonous ferocity the first time I brought the engine to life in the LAX airport parking garage. The tight concrete surrounding flung the roaring, growling exhaust notes thundering throughout the facility causing every person to stop, turn and take note of the Hellcat. Much as I lHellcat logooved the sound, the attention was unexpected, unnerving and made me wonder if this was the respect Caesar got when he marched into Rome after some foreign conquest.

The heft of the clutch as I engaged 1st gear made me acutely aware this car demanded my full attention and application of driving skills. This was no ordinary grocery-getter. Thankfully I had dutifully belted in because I had forgotten the Hellcat came shod with Brembo brakes. This cat’s “whoa” was as powerful as its 707HP “go” reminding me with a deserved Leroy Jethro Gibbs smack on the back of the head the first time the 6 pistons grabbed the caliper riveting the car to an immediate stop. OK. Won’t do that again.

Backstory: My daily drive is a C6 Corvette convertible, an engineering model I bought from GM PR when they still did those things. Corvette Centurion Dick Guldstrand promptly installed a cold-air induction system and later the stock exhaust got swapped out for the GM performance version so you can understand that performance driving is the norm, not the exception in my world. Frankly, if it rolls, flies or floats, I can pretty much operate it; performance is it not what I do, it is who I am.

The Hellcat was mine for a couple weeks, no one else was driving it save World Land Speed Record Holder Al Teague (409MPH) who marveled at its smooth clutch; he who shifted his supercharged HEMI only once every 100MPH on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Can’t tell you where, but will tell you that Hellcat effortlessly goes from zero to 85 and back to zero in just a few seconds. When I was demonstrating the first half of the exercise to Mr. Teague  he expressed audible concern to which I replied, “No worries Al, its got Brembos!” and walloped the brake pedal. Don’t look for the dime sweetheart, we’re on it. In the back seat, all we heard was Mr. Miller laughing lustily.

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Copyright 2016 LandSpeed Louise Photo | click photo to enlarge

The Hellcat mission was to drive up Pacific Coast Highway to the 2.2 mile Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca for the Western Automotive Journalists “Media Days,” a mundane title for a full-day of rapturous track-driving the 5 dozen, or so 2016 new cars provided by gracious and trusting car manufacturers around the globe. These automotive journalist-only events provide a significant, back-to-back “taste test” of same segment vehicles in a safe, orderly method.

Don’t be fooled, we who still know how to drive manual transmission cars (IMO every auto journo had better know how, or they are nothing more than illegitimate posers suckling on the OEM publicity budget teat) drive with satisfying gusto around all 11 elevation-changing turns finding great pleasure straightening out the corkscrew with every lap. My God, I love that track and hope the County Park Commissioners come to their senses about SCRAMP.

The Hellcat never got on the track. Instead I drove into the paddock and parked the well-mannered beast where every testosterone-producing human could see it and headed for the Vipers.

Then it happened. The testosterone producers started in on me about the red key. “You got the red key?” How come you got a red key?” “Wow, someone must really like you to get the red key!” This went on all morning because I had clipped the keys to my belt in order to NOT lose the fob and have to confess to FCA PR leader Scott Brown I was a dunderhead. It was he who explained to me what the fuss was all about — the black key limits HP to 500 while the red key unlocks all the HP nirvana.

Now wishing the fob glowed it was “neener, neener, neener” for the rest of the day.  It also bumped up my “momma cat” protectionist respect for Hellcat. If FCA’s Brown trusted me, then by God I better do my best to not get arrested, or have kitty impounded during this fleeting love affair. In short, give the thing back exactly the way I got it, save a bit less rubber and clutch plate.

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Bless us and keep us, somehow I gotta convince the Hellcat overlords to bring a pride of these cats to the Bonneville Salt Flats to run the USFRA’s 150MPH Club – not as easy as you might think with density altitude sometimes hovering past 7,700 feet.

The exhaust notes are intoxicatingly influential causing law abiding folks to throw caution into the inferno. By and large, common cars dare not sniff the Hellcat’s resolve, but every so often along came a testosteronal neanderthal who tried before he cried. Did you know you can break loose the Hellcat’s tires in 3rd gear? From San Diego to Monterey, whenever I wanted to be first, I was.

With every “ride” given, without exception, including my US Navy Seal buddy Joe, Music Composer Mike, Superior Court Judge Ed and Professor Gus, the first word response was the same: “expletive!!!!” followed by a verbal raging river of praise. I tried to give Police Chief John a ride, but the boy was too busy being in charge when I blew through his lovely town. Your loss Johnny boy.

Jordan and his parents doubtless got the best ride and drive as we lifted the eyebrows of dozens of Friday commuters taking a fast lap around their little SoCal town. My 11 year-old co-pilot will never be the same, Hellcat pictures are now on his bedroom wall and Dodge has a loyal fan for life.Hellcat_brembos

The interior was commanding, comfortable with all controls within easy operational reach. I never once felt the need to “get out and stretch” on long mileage runs. The bluetooth phone connection was flawless. The sound system: ditto. The various optional driving modes puts you and Hellcat in just the right suspension set-up.

Niece Emma and Nephew Jack thought I was the coolest Aunt ever driving them all over the Ojai Valley, especially since they both had plenty of foot room in the back seat and squealed with delight when I demonstrated the precision quickness with which Hellcat can change lanes in addition to its grand prix lefty/righty reflexes.

Mercy. I love this car.

What you got here folks is a full-tilt race powertrain expertly fitted into a street machine complete with all manners required to co-exist peaceably within the law. I’d take a Hellcat over a Viper any day. Oh! and so very clever using one of the headlights as a snarky air intake for the supercharger. Bravo for keeping a proboscian breather off the hood. The sticker was a mere $68,000. for something that could flick off a Porsche without missing a rev.

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Copyright 2016 LandSpeed Louise Photo| click photo to enlarge

It was a heavenly interlude with the Hellcat’s powerful purr as just we two motored up the Pacific Coast Highway drinking in the gorgeous rolling surf.

Some women need spa days.

Me? I need more Hellcat days.

 

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