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Astronaut John Glenn used Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats as a landmark from space, but on earth amateur motorsports enthusiasts have used the blistering hot, flat pancake as a speed laboratory for more than a century. With their handcrafted cars, trucks and motorcycles, thousands of men and women have hosted pageants of power each summer since 1949. Every single one came looking for the answer to the same question: “How fast will to go?” And those efforts have made them the fastest people on earth reaching speeds in excess of 500MPH. On the salt, people find the limits of their courage, they learn what daring greatly is all about, and understand why a Bonneville Salt Flats speed record is an internationally respected pedigree. People who race on the salt flats become a family bound together by speed – a powerful force that erases ethnic, economic, political and religious barriers: They are land speed racers. And this is their story.

The 128 page book with more than 200 images and art, is a chronology from 1914 to 2020 with three specialty chapters each devoted to Women Racers, Motorcycles & Thrust Powered Speed Machines. After 20 years of research, first time in print: EVERY car & motorcycle that ran at the inaugural 1914 time trial thanks to illustrator Robert “Steady Hand” Rampton.

 

Bonneville Salt Flats (Images of America) book shines light on local racers

 

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LandSpeed Louise comments: “Keen kudos to Karl for his exceptionally complete and correct contribution to the historical record of land speed racing. His book has garnered the attention and respect of not only very appreciative readers, but that of colleagues. Until Karl dug in, most motorsports people today had no idea what Railton did, had forgotten, or that he ever existed. Readers have but to scan but a few pages to realize what a void has been filled. All should be prepared to be absorbed into yesterday. “

LONDON (Oct. 19, 2019) – Karl Ludvigsen’s book, “Reid Railton: Man of Speed,”has won the coveted Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot Award (English) for 2019. Presented by the Society of Automotive Historians in the United States, this award is made each year to the book that best advances the understanding of the history of the automobile.
 
Supported by Railton’s daughter Sally Railton Joslin, “Reid Railton: Man of Speed”is the first book dedicated to the life and career of Reid Antony Railton, automotive engineer par excellence and the creator of an extraordinary range of cars. He rose to renown during the 1930s as chief engineer at Thomson & Taylor, Brooklands-based racing-car builders. There he realized the dreams of that era’s top men of speed, including Tim Birkin, Malcolm Campbell, Whitney Straight, John Cobb, Raymond Mays and Goldie Gardner. His great cars powered them all to sensational racing and record-breaking success.
 
“It was the joy of a lifetime to have the opportunity to write about Reid Railton, whose work I have admired for many years,” said Ludvigsen. “I was especially happy for my work to be honored this year, when the SAH celebrates its 50th anniversary. It is also significant for readers to be reminded of Railton at a time when the Bloodhound, another great British land-speed venture, is nearing its first major trial in South Africa. Its aerodynamicist wrote the book’s Foreword!
 
“I was lucky in finding revealing Railton vignettes such as his solving of a mysterious noise in a Hudson prototype. For a 21st-century audience I endeavored to set Railton’s work within the context of his times so it could be better understood by the modern reader. I hope this contributes to a better appreciation of the career of an engineer who deserves to be ranked among the greats of Britain and the world.”
 
Published by Evro Publishing in April 2018, this magisterial two-volume work by one of the world’s foremost automotive historians tells Reid Railton’s personal and professional story in superb detail and fascinating depth. Set against the turbulent background of the 1930s and 1940s, its special focus is on Ludvigsen’s interpretation of Reid’s unique insights – amounting to genius – and technical accomplishments. All are illuminated in 1,000 images in this superbly designed and beautifully produced book.
 
The Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot Award (English) is this book’s fifth award and its second in the United States. Its other awards are the Mercedes-Benz Montagu of Beaulieu Trophy (presented by the Guild of Motoring Writers), the Royal Automobile Club’s Specialist Motoring Book of the Year, the Michael Sedgwick Award (presented by Society of Automotive Historians in Britain) and Best Automotive Heritage Book (presented by the Automotive Heritage Awards).
 
About the author:
Karl Ludvigsen is respected as a close and knowledgeable observer of, and participant in, the world motor industry. In addition to his activities as an executive with GM, Fiat and Ford and head of a consulting company, he has been active for over 60 years as an author and historian. As an author, co-author or editor he has some six dozen books to his credit, most concerning cars, drivers, racing and technology, his life-long passion. Many have been garlanded for their high standard of writing and research. The 2019 SAH award is Ludvigsen’s fifth Cugnot prize. He and his wife Annette live in Suffolk, UK.

“Save The Salt”, the volunteer land speed racing group formed to protect the famed international speedway, recently hosted a CBS Network News crew at the Bonneville Salt Flats – at least what is left of it. . .

For those who missed the live broadcast, the show is available using the hot link below.
The Bonneville segment is just over eight minutes in length.
CBS NEWS: Debate Rages Over the Future of the Bonneville Salt Flats

On Saturday, October 5th, 2019, CBS This Morning aired a report on conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats. The CBS network news crew spent two days on the salt in mid-September observing the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association’s “World of Speed” event where they spoke with more than a dozen racers, officials and spectators about the unchecked decline in salt crust thickness — essential to safe land speed racing and record setting for amateur motorsports.

I was grateful for the high level of professional journalism demonstrated by CBS This Morning co-host Jeff Glor, producer Dan Ruetenik and cameraman Roger Masterton who conducted interviews with USFRA President Dennis Sullivan and Veteran land speed racer Rick Vesco, both of whom have donated countless hours to the effort to restore Bonneville.

It is my firm belief that restoring Bonneville will require the support of the American public and America won’t support something it doesn’t care about. America can’t care about something it doesn’t know about. That where CBS helped change the conversation and this report was the first national news report about the decline salt crust conditions essential to same amateur motorsports.

Historical racing footage was provided by Pete Farnsworth, builder of the Blue Flame Rocket Car, Danny Thompson shared clips of his father Mickey’s original Challenger runs, Al and Jane Teague’s Spirit of 76 streamliner, and TEAM Vesco of the 500MPH Turbinator along with film clips going back to the 1950s.

Save the Salt is working with local, state and federal government officials and the mine lease holder to implement a 10-year Restore Bonneville program. It will dramatically increase the amount of salt being pumped onto Bonneville after potash is removed. The current pumping program has helped stabilize Bonneville, but the infrastructure must be upgraded in order to restore this historic landmark. In early 2019, the State of Utah appropriated $5 million to the restoration process, contingent upon receiving $45 million from the federal government and other sources. The program will be administered by the State of Utah in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

For more details: www.savethesalt.org

Once more, Host Mark Greene invited me to be a guest on Cars Yeah. I love the guy who’s motto is” Inspiring Automotive Enthusiasts™

It was a great opportunity to educate listeners about the dire circumstances facing all the amateur land sped racers out on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Learn why motorsports worldwide can thank the Bureau of Land Management for decades of mind-blowing mismanagement.

• The interview is now live on Cars Yeah, iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, and Stitcher.

• If you can, please share this interview on your website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media with this link: Cars Yeah

LISTEN HERE: http://carsyeah.com/ourportfolio/1116-louise-noeth/

There came a surprising, unexpected phone call early this year, It was an invitation to join four other women in celebration of the International Day of the Woman. The ladies all work in the automotive and motorsports industry and all that was expected of us was to talk about our daily lives, each a different journey in male-dominated professions.

I’m ready at the drop of a pin to talk up land speed racing, but jabber on about myself? Not so much. It was the same for the other gals as well. Not a mantle we easily picked to carry.

This March 8th gathering took place at the Larz Anderson in Brookline, Massachusetts. It is America’s Oldest Car Collection and while the place carries a man’s name, Isobel Anderson was as good, if not a better driver, than her husband. She would have to be better, think about all the clothing “baggage” a gal was required to wear back her day. And the girl was a society taste-maker to boot, so dressing well was required, not optional.

This live storytelling event was billed as “Women’s Motormouth” A Vehicle of Human Experience and I was privileged to share the stage with  Samantha Briody, Sally Dawson, Dawn Hayes, and Jody Perewitz.

In the audience of some 150 people was Tim Baer, who writes for the the Motorcyclist’s Post.  Tim was kind enough to allow me to post his report here and it includes some short bios of each of the gals. Read his report here: https://www.landspeedproductions.biz/wp-content/uploads/Motormouth2018.pdf

What hit me afterwards was that one of the gals had yet to be be born when I began my motorsports career running around the country racing jet cars in the mid 1970s. Listening to each of these woman was a joy. Every one of them spoke with conviction and purpose, it was clear they enjoyed what they did and when you are happy in your labors, most often you are also good at what you do.

Dawn came to her path through abject tragedy and has stoically taken sadness and brought joy to thousands by teaching them how to safely ride a motorcycle. Sally Dawson owns and operates her own auto repair shop. Guys work for her! Samantha is a service writer at a dealership, who even at her tender young age, has amassed a respectable brain trust of info to get her clients, in and out of the shop deftly. And then there is Jody. Most would be impressed with what this gal does 9 to 5 at her dad’s custom motorcycle shop, but when you mention that she throws a leg over two-wheelers on the Bonneville Salt Flats and has set numerous records. . ., eyebrows rise exponentially.

The message? I think I speak for all of us when I say, ignore the naysayers, if you want it, go get it, whatever the career you desire. Girls, ladies, know this: there isn’t car, bike, or truck that knows what gender is at its controls. The machine will simply respond to input. Be your best and time will take care of the rest.

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