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.


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.


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.






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.

Green Speed Diesel Truck

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.


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.


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.


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














A century of speed has rolled across the famed Bonneville Salt Flats. Starting in 1914, with “Terrible” Teddy Tetzlaff, the velocity milestones are still rising, roaring and raging. The 2014 racing season brings Kaylin Stewart, a rookie 16 year-old teenager to the starting line determined to set a class record in excess of 200 miles per hour.

 First-time racers at the Bonneville Salt Flats are affectionately called “salt virgins” because running on the panoramic sodium-soaked pancake always imparts startling insight about its many hidden difficulties. Every smarty pants who thinks otherwise gets a life lesson that hopefully doesn’t cost too much in crunched parts and bunched undies. Containers of cash won’t ease the pain either. The original salt virgin came to this hallowed speed Mecca back in 1914. “Terrible” Teddy Tetzlaff was the King of the West Coast drivers, a two-time winner of the Santa Monica road races and holder of innumerable course speed records.

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The officials from the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and the Bonneville Nationals, Inc. (BNI) who together — for more than 60 years –have produced the world famous Bonneville time trials each August  selected “LandSpeed” Louise Ann Noeth’s photo of the Speed Demon Streamliner for the the 2010 Speedweek Press Pass. All members of the media who intend to cover the thrilling week-long event will be required to register with the SCTA media office to obtain the coveted credential.

I spent the morning and half the afternoon listening to America’s brain trust talk about how they were making tomorrow better by working out today’s problems in federal laboratories all across the country. This was the annual meeting of the Federal Laboratory Consortium whose organizers had asked me to give the keynote luncheon presentation on land speed racing. As a mere high school graduate who only got college education by sneaking into classes at the Illinois Institute of Technology, impressed doesn’t begin to explain my thoughts about hanging out some of the best brains on the planet, but let’s just say I slept easier that night knowing knowing these people were on our side.

What bothered me was how nearly every one of these brainiacs cried about how hard it was to get, and hold the attention of, young people — part of an outreach program every lab has to encourage students to take up study paths in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The idea is to keep the educational pipeline filled with future candidates for the labs. Places like NASA, NIH, DOD, CDC and US Air Force Academy.

I sat in one audience after another listening to their elegant tales of woes and thought to myself, “I’ve never met a kid, boy or girl, that wasn’t fascinated by a land speed racing machine, they ought to use the fastest cars, trucks and motorcycles on earth as the teaching metaphor so the kids won’t get bored and tune out.”

At a cocktail party that evening I mentioned my thoughts to a number of giant brains who introduced me to Caroline Hardman from the National Network of Digital Schools, part of Lincoln Interactive, an “e” learning company in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The result? It was an educational speed record where we went from concept to contract in a few weeks. As I write this we are a few weeks from completing an 18-lesson study course for middle schools students that will not only provide a comprehensive accredited educational curriculum, but expose kids to a broad spectrum of  technical and scientific career paths. This Cutting Edge Science educational course, Engineering the Future is meant to be a “captivating” primer to the whole engineering field, to expose students to the many segments available to them, not to try to teach them to be any one segment of the profession.

The number of graduates in these fields in recent years is scary short of what this country needs. In fact, there is direct relationship between the end of the US Space program and the dramatic fall-off of engineering degrees in the country. The”bleed-over” effect has slammed Great Britain as well. That’s why Richard Noble’s 1,000MPH Bloodhound project is touting education over the record-setting goal. Well, that and because road racer pal Paul Drayson also happens to swing a lot of political torque as the UK Minister of Science and asked the boys to help bolster the educational needs of the nation.

Helping me do this the same fine thing here in the States are some very kind and generous people from motorsports, with particular emphasis on land speed racing. They are the “Subject Matter Experts” and while I could have written most of the content myself, it occurred to me the bigger vision was to have as many people in the sport take part so that in the end the very people who give the sport its vitality and its verve would vicariously teach the children.  

On behalf of young students I am very grateful to all that the people listed below agreed to join with me to inspire young minds to take up science, technology, engineering and math courses.  If we can inspire children when they are young, and full so many tomorrows, to take up a STEM study path, the whole world will be better for it. And by using land speed racing as the teaching metaphor, we ought to have a bunch of fun doing it.

I publicly thank the Engineering the Future Subject Matter Experts for their contributions!

LEGEND: Color-coded names denote a special racing achievement distinction for the individual.

200MPH Club Life Member – Class Record Holder

300MPH Chapter – Class Record Holder, also a member of the 200MPH Club.

WLSR – World Land Speed Record (WLSR) in excess of 400MPH, also a life member of the both the 200MPH Club and the 300MPH Chapter.

CRH – Class Record Holder

ODB – Owner/driver/builder


Eric Ahlstrom, Fossett LSR

Ron Ayers, Aerodynamicist, ThrustSSC, JCB Dieselmax, Bloodhound

Dave Brant, Race Car/Motorcycle Builder, Brant Engineering, BWS Streamliner, CRH 180MPH Class K/FS, 1998 SCTA Points Champion

Tom Burkland, ODB, 411 streamliner – WLSR  415MPH

Paul Carosa, VP Engineering, AC Propulsion, White Lightning Streamliner WLSR 245MPH

Dave Dahlgren, data acquisition Zen master, Engine Management Systems, CRH???

Bonner Denton, ODB,#3000 AA/BGMS, CRH 298MPH, Galileo Professor of Chemistry and Geosciences, University of Arizona

Ken Duttweiler, master engine builder, Duttweiler Performance,

Nord Embroden, WLSR holder, land yacht designer & builder, NORD Design

Pete Farnsworth, Builder, Reaction Dynamics, Blue Flame Rocket – WLSR 622MPH

Don Ferguson II, ODB, Ferguson Racing, CRH 302 MPH Class XXF/BFS

Don Ferguson III, ODB, Ferguson Racing, SCTA President

George Fields, ODB, Trackmaster Fabrication, Trackmaster Competition Coupe, CRH,  3??MPH

Rick Gold, owner, ERC Racing Fuels,

Travis Heap, Crew Chief, Phoenix Diesel Race Truck, CRH 272MPH Class U/DT

Curtis Halvorson, driver, Mormon Missile, engine builder, CRH 305MPH, WLSR 341.165MPH

Seth Hammond, ODB, #77 Lakester, CRH

Ed Hillstrom, team member, Buckeye Bullet Electric/Hydrogen streamliner, BNI Record Holder

Tom Klein, Mechanical Engineering Masters Degree, master engine builder, Klein Engine Technologies

Jerry Kugel, ODB, Kugel Komponents – World Land Speed Record Holder, CRH 

Joe Law, ODB, Grumpy Old Men Lakester, CRH, C/BFL 349MPH

Les Leggitt, master engine builder, CRH

Mike Lefevers, master engine builder , Mitech Racing Engines, CRH

Dr. Tim Leverton, JCB Dieselmax, CRH, WLSR 350MPH

Roy Lewis, ODB, Chassis Engineering, CRH 306.8MPH

Craig McCarthy, Chief Engineer, Aerodine Engineering & Aerodine Composites

Dan Metz, ODB & University Professor, Motorsports Consultant

Terry Moreau, ODB, Moreau & McBride streamliner, CRH 224MPH, ESC Systems,

Mike and Terry Nish, OBD, Nish Motorsports, #998  streamliner, CRH, Top Speed: 386MPH

Richard Noble, ODB, Thrust II & ThrustSSC – WLSR / 633MPH

James Rice, ODB, CRH, Owner, Chronologic Timing, Official Supplier of Timing Equipment to SCTA, BUB, BNI, FIA, FIM, USAC, ACCUS and AMA, sanctioned events —

Pat Rummerfield, Driver, White Lightening Electric Streamliner, WLSR 245MPH

Harry Schoell, Inventor of the Cyclone-Schoell Cycle Engine

Nick and Ken Smith, Drive Train Experts, Hot Rod Works,

Bob Stroud, Principal, Stroud Safety, parachute & safety equipment

Rex Svoboda, 411 streamliner crew, CRH

Al Teague, ODB, Spirit of 76 streamliner – WLSR 409MPH

David R. Thom, Collision and Injury Dynamics, Inc

Dan Warner, driver, SCTA Speed Records Official, CRH 230MPH

Sam Wheeler, ODB, EZ Hook Motorcycle streamliner, fastest speed to date 355.303 MPH

Oscar B. Will, Automotive Tech Instructor, ASE Master Technician, GM Certified Service Manager

Chuk Williams, ODB, Land Speed Steam Car

Dan Wright, ODB, USFRA Chief Tech Inspector, #677 Streamliner, CRH


If you want to know more about the course, check out The National Network of Digital Schools that offers an impressive range of interactive coursework, developed by experienced educators and professionals, and supported by a network of certified Teacher Facilitators. This is dynamic curricula — for lifelong learners.

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