16 August 2011

2011 Bonneville Speed Week

The reincarnated Silver Bullet, built by Todd Landon / Landon Speed Racing
Photo courtesy of bangshift.com.

Todd is at Bonneville Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.  He rebuilt the Silver Bullet, a 1965 Mustang Fastback, as a land speed car, and he is hoping to crack 200 mph. 

The Silver Bullet was a pedigreed La Carrera Panamericana, Targa Newfoundland and Chihuahua Express competitor before heading to The Flats.  Originally built by Todd Landon, it was piloted by the late Tom Silver and navigated by Dave Fuss.

The Silver Bullet, multiple time class winner at Targa Newfoundland.
Photo courtesy of Fabricio de la Cajiga.
Tom Silver and Dave Fuss after a little mishap at the 2007 Chihuahua Express.  Photo courtesy of Fabricio de la Cajiga.

The Silver Bullet now, #3720 at the Bonneville Salt Flats on 15-Aug-11.

The Silver Bullet is entered on the 2011 Speed Week Pre-Entries as:
     Vehicle = #3720
     Engine = C (Classic Category, '28 - '81 American coupes and sedans)
     Body = CBGALT (classic blown gas altered)
     Entry Name = Mustangs To Go
(More information on how the classes work is at the bottom.)

We have 3 drivers who will take turns at breaking 200 mph:
  • Thierry de Latre du Bosqueau
  • Simon Jefferies
  • Bruno Van Marsenille
Yesterday, Monday, August 15, 2011, the Silver Bullet ran its first qualifying run with Thierry at the wheel.  The required qualifying range was 125-150 mph; Thierry averaged 143.402 starting at mile 2.  Today's qualifying run is required to be between 150-175 mph.

Erik Hansson's Scandinavian Street Rod, a restored drop tank that raced at Bonneville in the 1950's and 1960's.  This belly tank racer has a blown flathead Ford motor producing almost 600 mph and it set a new record in 2009 of 194.744 mph.  Anders Berg, a veteran LCP and ChiX mechanic, is a mechanic on the team but was not able to make it to Bonneville this year.

The Lil Salt T from Denver - I saw this vehicle this spring at the Air Force Academy during a Bonneville presentation to engineering cadets by Land Speed Louise.
More information on the classes and categories:


This category encompasses American coupes and sedans between 1928 and 1981. The classes within this category are intended to provide a venue for coupes and sedans from the "Golden Era" of American Automobile production.

Engine classes allowed are AA, A, B, C, D, E, F

How Do The Classes Work?

Bonneville Speed Week - V=D/T
     Velocity Is Distance Over Time. Bonneville Speed Week Is Velocity Over History.

From the December, 2009 issue of Hot Rod
By David Freiburger
Photography by David Freiburger

Most race classes at Bonneville are broken down by five criteria: body category, aerodynamic modifications to the body, engine size, supercharged or not, and fuel or gas.

The categories are Special Construction (Streamliners with closed wheels and Lakesters with open wheels, neither of which may be based on any production car), Vintage ('23 to '38 roadsters, '48-and-earlier coupes with vintage engines, '48-and-earlier oval-track cars), Classic ('28 to '81 American cars without EFI), Modified (with classes for virtually any year and make of car, including sports cars and pickups), Production (including stock-bodied '28-to-current passenger cars, sports cars, and trucks), and Diesel Truck.

Within the Vintage, Classic, and Modified categories, there are multiple classes divided by aero modifications. In Vintage, a Street Roadster is nearest to stock (it has rear fenders and front headlights), a Roadster is fenderless, and a Modified Roadster or Rear Engine Modified Roadster has a stretched wheelbase and aero mods forward of the cowl. In Modified, the lowest level of aero upgrades is Gas Coupe, which allows a front air dam. Next is Altered, where spoilers and covered grilles and headlights are legal. The next step up in the Modified category is the Competition Coupe class, which allows chopped tops and stretched, aerodynamic noses and bellypans. The Modified Sports and Modified Pick-up classes likewise allow more aero mods than the respective Production-class versions of the same vehicles. In the Production category, cars must be aerodynamically stock. 

Next, each class within these categories allows a certain number of engine variations. Displacements range from AA, which is 500 ci and up, to K, which is 30.99 ci and under. An engine with any kind of supercharger or turbo falls into the Blown classes. The Gas designation is for cars operating on the certified ERC brand gasolines provided at the event. Fuel classes are open to any noncertified fuel, including gasoline, alcohol, nitromethane, or nitrous oxide.

Every entry is required to carry a class designation on its side, and this leads to a confusing alphabet soup for first-timers. Generally, engine displacement comes first, followed by a slash, then a code that describes the induction type, fuel, and body class. For example, a AA/BGS is a Blown Gas Streamliner with an engine above 500 ci. A C/BFRMR is a Blown Fuel Rear-engine Modified Roadster with a C engine, from 306 to 372.99 ci. A D/CGC is a Classic Gas Coupe with a D engine from 261 to 305.99 ci. And a V4F/BVFCC is a Blown Vintage Fuel Competition Coupe with a Vintage four-cylinder Flathead engine. Get it?

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