SOCIETY OF LANDSPEED RACING HISTORIANS Newsletter #23. Websites posting the newsletter are:
President's Corner: By Jim Miller.
Editor's notes: This was sent October 2006 but not received until a year later due to computer problems.
2) Bonneville '06 and APA nationals by Ken Kelley. (Slightly edited down from the original-editor)
The real Bonneville story is not just the cold hard speed numbers, but must include the human element and the
struggles of how those speeds were accomplished. There were somewhere around 500 entries at Bonneville this
year and it was hard to even keep track of your own group without trying to scout out everybody you'd like to
see. We (Andy Bartfay, Pete Prentice and I) left Turkey Creek at midnight. We got 5 miles down Lytle Creek
canyon before Murphy's law took over. One of the electric trailer brakes was smoking badly. Our good fortune
was that Pete was behind Andy and me in his mini-truck, and spotted the smoke. We fixed the problem with a
special brake tool that closely resembles a pair of diagonal cutters. We snipped two of the brake wires. That
still left two working trailer brakes. Andy's flatbed trailer is a nostalgic piece of history. It was Al Teague's long
trailer for his 438 mph 'liner (streamliner class ...covered wheels), even when it was still a lakester (open wheels).
I feel fast just towing it. It has seen better days. Andy reserected it from Mike Wesche's bone yard and rebuilt it
enough to get us to Bonneville. He painted it red after removing most of the rust. That was a monumental task!
It sports six new tires and a new, but erratic, lighting system. We had to use the brake tool again near Baker
coming home when the running lights were shorting out the tail lights. Al was at the salt but I missed him. There
is a poster being sold to generate $ to get the old Sadd, Teague, and Bently hi-boy (no fenders) roadster running
again. The rest of the trip was uneventful except for our tithe to the great god Diesel and eating the required sub
sandwich at R-Place in Ely NV. You must eat a sub in Ely. It's the law! Our rooms were ready at the 1/4 star
Hose Clamp Hotel in East Bendover. Texans stay there. Biker Texans like Guy Mabee drink beer outside at the
end of the walkway. Car Texans like George Fields and crew and our bunch drink beer outside in the passage
way between our rooms. It is always interesting with that many Texans! (I am a Pseudo Texan because I lived in
Baytown, TX for 3 years. I had some cowboy boots and even went to Gilly's!). The new manager has refurbed
the Hose Clamp to a certain extent, including the $20 per night room rate increase, but it's still cheaper than most
and we can park right outside the room. We met the rest of our pit crew on the salt. Butch Salter (he refers to
himself as "Old BS") and Al Hrenko, who come from Denver, and Dan Drenk who lives in salt Lake City when
he and Nancy are not traveling to China on business. Butch and Al have been helping us for a number of years.
Andy has been on the crew since about 1985 and Dan has helped me since even further back. We met in 1960
when we were building solid rocket motors in case the cold war heated up. Somehow we both escaped being
blown to bits while transferring nitroglycerine and other things that go bang in the night. Butch and Al are old drag
racers and taught us a few new twists about racing. Old drag racers know a lotta stuff! It pays to get in line early.
We were there at 0730 Friday. Inspections didn't start until 0900, but when they began, we were ready. By 0930,
we were done. New cars get the evil eye for safety infractions. This is as it should be. Jim Price reported a 4-hour
ordeal on his newly reworked mini-truck. The lines were long and the day was hot, says Jim. He barely missed
the 200 mph mark once again, but learned a lot (again). Someone measured the pits to be 1.3 miles from end to end,
and they were 3 rows deep in many places. One end is at the 2-3/4 mile mark and the other is at the 4 mile (more
or less). This allows you to watch the cars go by at speed. The course is sufficiently far away for safety. The starting
line is 3 miles away. For the time being (Kelley's car) it is called the "Blackbird." It is #120. Used to be #7771 which
is SR-71 on the phone buttons. #120 is more nostalgic and has been my number since 1975. It was Leon Griffith's
# before that and Noel Black's before that. This is meaningless drivel to pool shooters, but of vital interest to racers
(ho-hum zzzzzzz). It is (Kelley's car) a 1927 Model T roadster that has been "modified" a bit. Thus, the class is
called Modified Roadster. There is a new class this year for rear-engine modifieds. Many new cars were entered
in this class and more are being built. The class was outlawed for many years because they all spun out. Some
went upsidedown. It took a number of years for our rocket scientist hot rodders to figure out that short wheel
base was the culprit. (Some as short as 80"). The current 190" WB cars make this a viable option once again.
Mine is front engine. The race course is 5 miles long and you are timed at the 2, 2-1/4, 3, 4, and 5 mile marks.
If you run over the record, you must go directly to impound where you have 4 hours to work on the car. Return
runs are early the next morning and a two-run average establishes a new record, subject to inspection and engine
size determination using what I call the "Gloppity Glop Machine." In the "old days" (Old ducks ...aka salt flat
veterans, are always talking about the old days), you had to pull off a (cylinder) head to check displacement. The
course was supposed to be better than it's been for 20 years, but a few days of running proved it to be of lesser
quality than touted. The officials moved the course up one mile on Tuesday. That helped a lot. It sure beat last
year's washboard! We didn't even attempt to run last year.
I made the first pass (almost). It was so rich (fuel to air ratio too high) I couldn't get it to clean out (run properly)
and it burbled and died. I did manage to coast off the course before the Course Nazi came to eject me and put
tooth marks in my posterior. I still have scars from the time I stopped on the course a few years ago! We're a bit
gun shy from melting pistons and damaging blocks, so we are slowly creeping up on the mixture. Generally, Pete
takes care of the engine work, reads the data logger and tunes. I design, fabricate, weld, spend lots of money and
take naps. We both drive. I did make a 260 mph run a while back. That's our top speed so far, but that's still
too slow. My main bragging right is the 253 in the 2-1/4. For me, that was memorable. That's old hat to Pete
who has run over 300 in Leggitt's lakester.
I found that I have finally passed the limit of endurance with my caloricly induced girth increase and besides,
looking like the Michelin Man in my bulky firesuit, I am so uncomfortable squeezed into the car in the August
heat that I have given up driving until I can get into my other smaller suits and be at ease in the cockpit. Serious
dieting has already begun. By next June, you will think you're seeing Tom Selleck walking about in the pits. Pete
leaned it some and got it to clean out around the 3 mile. We were running in an open class (B/BFMR). That
means a 438 cu.in. supercharged engine running any type of fuel. We've been running the event gas (high octane
gasoline especially formulated for blowers) for 6 years, so we continued running gas even though we could use
methanol and nitromethane if desired. The 2-club minimum for the class is 280 mph, but we are already in the
2-club (200 mph club, having set a new record over 200 mph). Pete is in the 3-club. That is my ultimate goal,
to set a 300+ mph record and trade my red hat for a blue hat! (We get hats and trophys instead of prize money).
The 280 is about right for the class. This is possible on gas, but pushing the envelope to go 300. A fuel engine
should go 300+. That's what is says here in my Les Leggitt instruction manual. Les originally built this engine for
the late Don Borquist about 1994. It has gone 260 at El Mirage in a lakester with rear wheel covers. (The
Shyster). We set the B/BFMR record 3 times and left it at 253 mph. We were still making black smoke
(indicating that rich mixture I mentioned). A respectable speed, but lots left. It's nice to go home with all your
marbles (the engine, car and drivers are all intact). We were actually tiring of going to impound and getting up
at 0500 every morning for record runs. (Never thought I'd say that!). We developed a crack in a header (exhaust
pipe) and another in the water tank. Pete Chapouris Jr and Ryan Reed from So Cal Speed Shop welded both
cracks twice to keep us running. They gladly helped all who had problems and deserve a big hand for their
support of all the backyard guys who didn't bring TIG welders and generators. Thanks, Pete and Ryan!
God bless our friends from England! They too were helping many people with problems. They had a very
large outfit, some of which was at the airport where the atomic bomb crews were trained in WWII. One racer
told me they were doing some welding for him when the main breaker blew out. The Englishman said, "Leave it
here and it'll be done tomorrow." The breaker was fixed about 2 am and this generous man got up and finished
that welding job in the wee hours so it would be ready for our hot rodder in the morning! Now, that's what I call
real sportsmanship! THAT is the human side of Bonneville that doesn't show in the rule book.
The British entry was a streamliner with a JCB diesel engine. Their "push truck" was a huge earth mover that
dwarfed the racecar. Andy Green, the RAF pilot who drove Thrust II to 763 mph a few years ago was called
upon to drive this car too. He is a real gentleman, as was everyone on the British team. They talked to everybody
about their car and we got some photos with Andy for our picture walls. They were outdone by some American
hot rodders from (Montana) who got the record first while the English were having problems. But, they got it
right later and after we'd left for home, I think they went 417 mph with their ground mover diesel engine to just
ace out the Burklands for top time of the meet. Congratulations on "A jolly good show." (Some say Burkland's
had top time. I'm still comfused?).
Frank Danielson (1928 - 2006). Frank was involved in many racing activities all his life. I had the pleasure of
meeting him and his lovely daughter Leslie (who has driven 165 mph here), about 5 years ago. They too, stayed
at the "Hose Clamp Hotel." I've written about their crew before. Frank had some really funny stories. My version
is available if you would like to reread some of my old reports. Frank passed away suddenly a month or two
before Bonneville. The family had a short service for him on the salt and planned to put his ashes in someone's
parachute to be scattered as it deployed. We think Frank was lookin' down and funnin' us! One car with some
of his ashes spun out. One had an engine fail to start at the line. Another had yet a different problem. They just
couldn't seem to get Frank scattered! After the service, Leslie asked if I could try too. I felt honored to do this
bit for my old friend and his family. So, we stuffed some ashes in my chute too. Somebody said they could see
a white puff of dust as the chute deployed. I think other cars took some of Frank as well. I guess Frank was just
waiting until after the service. I'd like to have a photo of that puff of dust if anybody has one. I will gladly reimburse
you for any cost and even buy you a hamburger for lunch next year.
The service was held at Doug Robinson's pit and conducted by Alan (The Bishop) McAllister from Doug's crew.
Frank called him "The Bishop" even before he actually became a bishop in the LDS church. Lots of folks came
and some told of their longtime friendship with Frank. Bishop McAllister told a story of a man who had reached
the age of about 95 or so and on his deathbed whispered to his wife, "I never really accomplished anything"...and
died. What a sad way to go, having held back his goals and dreams to merely persue a mundane life without any
feeling of accomplishment. The bishop said some very profound things about life and "Letting out your music." So
many people spend their life as spectators commenting on other peoples' failures and triumphs, but never become
a participant. They never get out into "The mud and the blood and the beer," as Johnny Cash sings about (more
or less). Dan Kalbach quoted to me once, "Some people spend their whole life runnin' away from somethin' that
ain't chasin' 'em."
Such was not the case for Frank Danielsen. He tried everything. He let his music out! The Bishop extrapolated
this to all the Bonneville contestants. "We are not to be counted among the meek and timid souls who merely
watch life go by...we are on the front lines." He urged everybody to "Let your music out...time may be short."
(Of course, this can be further extrapolated to include numerous other activities too). This was a moving tribute
to Frank and to us all who strive here, to fail and fail again and finally succeed in the end...who cannot say "I
never really accomplished anything" ...and die. In hearing the Bishop's words we can all be reminded we are
different and have earned the right to hold our heads a little higher than before. Thanks, Bishop McAllister.
Thanks, Frank, for your friendship and showing us how to "Let your music out."
John Rank and partner Henry (forgot his last name...the tall guy who I thought was John for 2 years) also run
a modified roadster. It is more "spiffy" than mine. He too, had a record disqualified for body measurements. We
both made our roadster bodies conform to the nebulous rule book statements and are "on the road again." We
now refer to ourselves as the "Roadster Cheaters Club." John and Henry were in impound at least three times
and set records in three different classes.
The Burklands: Gene, Betty, and driver Tom ran their twin-engine streamliner for either the top or 2nd fastest
time of the meet at 410 mph, but failed to up their own record of 417 mph set in 2004. (They have gone 450 in
the past and are looking at 500 mph!). They didn't like the lack of traction and will run the FIA meet in Late
September, hoping for a better course. (FIA is an international sanctioning body...from France, I think. They
have different rules). I'm told that race director Mike Cook is the certified FIA agent and can certify records.
When we left for home, they were practicing getting the car onto the trailer in the time limit set by the FIA for
return runs. They were still too slow. I noticed a number of teams that had their racecar on a separate trailer
inside the traveling trailer. The Burkland's have "one-upmanshipped" everybody by having another pushtruck
and trailer inside their main truck and trailer. Sort of like those old Chinese puzzles with a box in a box in a box.
Their outfit is a marvel of engineering. I am always impressed. They will talk to anybody who strolls by if they
aren't in the throes of a mission to get race ready. Even then, they'll stop to look for a part or tool if your eyes
are bulging, mouth is drooling, stuff is running out of your nose and you seem unduly stressed.
Calvin Smith somehow plugged up his fuel filters and caught on fire. Lost the engine, trans and part of the
body. He builds some really ingenious cars. One 'liner readily converts into a Mercedes Benz Limousine at the
flip of a switch. (well, maybe I've embellished this a bit, but he does have a roadster that can become a coupe).
Cal is long over due for some good luck. I forsee this happening next year. Good luck Cal! Fred Dannenfeltzer
someow blew out the side of the cylinder head on his 375 mph lakester. He told me (more or less) that he had
a problem with the head between his shoulders that caused the cylinder head problem on the engine. Anyhow,
we were looking forward to some typical ground shaking runs by Fast Freddie this year. I've seen some runs
by Fred at El Mirage that make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.
James Wright Price (Jim). JWP publishes the free Saltine News every day on e-mail. Subscribe to hear all
the news from the COL (city of lights...Las Vegas). Learn about the YOW (yard of wonders) and the NPRT
(Nevada Power Race Truck). Hear stories about Carl the sander, Carle the hippie, Mr Bill who owns his own
crank grinding machine and other denizens of the COL. Send your subscription request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My first sight of Jim was about 1953 when he had just finished a fist fight with somebody and his upper lip looked
like a small blimp. Don't remember who it was. Don't even want to know! The image just sticks in my mind. Jim's
truck is right on the cusp of beating a 206 mph record. I think he's run just over 200, but the record evades him.
He finally got it to handle (go straight). All early drivers managed to spin it out, including Pete and yours truly.
That was a story in itself. Vic Arias drove this year. He has his own car called "Vicarious." Price runs a
NASCAR engine built by Kevin Kroyer in the COL. A tour through Kroyer's is a real treat. It's the cleanest
shop I've ever seen. Two people must be required to run anything like a lathe or mill. One to do the machining
and one to run the Shop Vac so no chips can hit the floor. It's an amazing place! As I always say, "A clean
motor is a happy motor".
David Haas is sombody who has struggled for many years to go fast in a twin engined 'liner with some poor
luck every time. The agony of defeat has been David's byword. Murphy's law-R-us. BUT, this year he got it
right! Being so used to going too slow, he forgot to get his gas tank sealed (to assure he was using event gas)
and proceded to qualify for a record. The run was disqualified. SHIITE, says Dave! They had to do it again
and backed it up on a return pass averaging 308 mph (I think). Congratulations, Doc Haas! Jeff Shipley and
Don Spruall helped set the car up at Jeff's shop in Upland, CA. Jeff will run his own twin-engine 'liner next
month at World Finals. I've known Jeff since about 1956. His eventual goal is 400 mph. Jeff has been struggling
for years also. Going 400 is a whole world apart from merely going 300. But, of course, one has to go 300
before one can go 400.
Boogie & Bubba Scott. These guys are from the New Orleans area and invited us over for red beans and rice,
Cajun style, but I couldn't find their pits! SHIITE, says Ken! Boogie got in the 2-club this year and Bubba is next.
Congratulations. They are friends of Frank Oddo who was our embedded photo-jornalist in 2004. Frank likes
that Cajun coffee with chickory. He says it's not like that watered down Yankee swill served in the rest of the US.
Duane & Gary Cole. They do water jet machining in the COL. They run an extended 240Z sports coupe. They
melted a piston and so, just removed it and entered a smaller displacement class. They set a record over 200mph
and Duane got in the 2-club on a "Paul Harvey" run. (Using "The rest of the engine").
Bob Brissstte and son Bob Brissette. They are running a brand new lakester built by Capt Billy and Mike Cook Jr
from Mike's stable in Norco. After a lot of dyno time, they got the engine perking pretty well. Now to iron out the
chassis bugs. They went 244, but the chute lanyard was too short and jerked the car about 3 feet off the ground.
This was hard on the frame, which developed some huge cracks. These were repaired, but Bob later found bad
rings pumping oil. They're ready for next time. 2-club banquet: This is the social event of the week. It's open for
anybody who has a ticket. You need to get tickets early, they sell out. This year, Andy and I got two seats right up
front at a table full of old veterans and legends. We were even facing the podium for a change. Our prestigious and
extinguished group included Louie Senter, George and Jan Callaway, Bob Leggio (race insurance), Jimmy Deist
(safety gear), Nick Arias (pistons), Ed Iskenderian (cams), Andy Bartfay and myself. We had a bird's eye view
of all the awards and happenings. There were a number of new 2-club members.
The man of the year award went to Roy Creel for his outstanding contributions to our venue. Previous "man of
the year" recipients and major supporters were ackowledged. Charles Scott (Scotty's Muffler), Ak Miller, Chuck
Billington, Mary West, Art Chrisman, Leroy Neumeyer, Doc Jeffries, Bob Leggio, Nick Arias, Jim Deist, Ed
Iskenderian and Kathy Olsen. Four of these folks were at our table. Some were deceased. I even felt important,
being at the table of legends and all. This writing is so late that we have, in the meantime, run a meet at El Mirage
and melted yet another piston at 214 mph trying for 234. We'll be ready on 22 October 2006. The FIA runs on
the salt have now come and gone. Briefly, Terry Nish went 383 against a 409 record. Burkland's ran a 407 mph
pass, trying for a different 409 record, but broke a driveline. Only Ron Main has set a record with George Poteet
driving, they averaged 328, beating Fred Larsen's record of 310 set in 1992. Congratulations Ron and crew! All
three teams experienced many difficulties and spent an arduous 3 days struggling with them. Congratulations to all
of them! A gallant effort. Written by Ken Kelley
Members: Jonathan Amo, Brett Arena, Henry Astor, Glen Barrett, Lee Blaisdell, Warren Bullis, Gary Carmichael,
Jerry Cornelison, G. Thatcher Darwin, Jack Dolan, Ugo Fadini, Robert Falcon, Rich Fox, Glenn Freudenberger,
Don Garlits, Bruce Geisler, Stan Goldstein, Andy Granatelli, Walt James, Wendy Jeffries, Ken Kelley, Mike Kelly,
Jim Lattin, Mary Ann and Jack Lawford, Fred Lobello, Dick Martin, Ron Martinez, Tom McIntyre, Don McMeekin,
Tom Medley, Jim Miller, Don Montgomery, Mark Morton, Paula Murphy, Louise Ann Noeth, David Parks, Richard
Parks, Wally Parks (in memoriam), Eric Rickman, Willard Ritchie, Roger Rohrdanz, Evelyn Roth, Ed Safarik,
Frank Salzberg, Charles Shaffer, Mike Stanton, David Steele, Doug Stokes, Bob Storck, Zach Suhr, Pat Swanson,
Al Teague, JD Tone and Jack Underwood.