Go Speed Racer

Bonneville Salt Flats Landscape Mountains Utah

This 30,000 acre salt pan in northwestern Utah is probably best known for an entirely unlikely reason. Given the slickness of its salty surface, it’s not the best place to achieve fast acceleration of wheeled vehicles. And yet if these Bonneville Salt Flats are known for one thing it is for land speed records. What gives?

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 “Dude I was sideways out there for almost a mile, we definitely have a traction problem!!”
~Overheard at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

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What the Salt Flats lacks in grip (experienced racers describe the surface as similar to well-maintained gravel) it compensates for with an expanse that is smooth, flat, and long. So long and flat that it’s possible to see the curvature of the earth while looking eastward. More than enough room for racing enthusiasts to create the 10 mile long tracks needed for their vehicles to reach maximum speed – something folks have been doing at Bonneville since Teddy Tetzlaff set the first land speed record here in 1914.

Since then the Salt Flats has become a Mecca for speed junkies and gear heads. Both amateurs and professionals gather here each August for SpeedWeek where participants race everything from turbocharged streamliners to go carts. It’s a place where even the barstools go 55 miles per hour.

Bonneville Salt Flats Mountain Landscape Walking Utah

Unfortunately, we missed the excitement of SpeedWeek, arriving long after the smoke cleared and the fast cars departed. On the plus side, we also missed the crowds, leaving this strange, salty surface mostly for ourselves.

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14 Comments on “Go Speed Racer”

  1. revitalization November 12, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    wonderful photos

    http://revitalization.wordpress.com

  2. unpackedwriter November 12, 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Very cool! Love the description and the barstool reference. Would love if the blog that orginated that concept had posted an image. Very cool! – Renee

  3. Pat Bailey November 12, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I am familiar with this, of course, but I have never seen images of it that focused just on the beauty of the place. It must have felt strange to walk on it because it is so vast and flat.

  4. zelmare November 12, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    Wow! A desolate landscape…

  5. nutsfortreasure November 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm #

    Loving SPEED as I do I loved your post been out there many years ago records back then have long been broken I must go again :)
    Eunice

  6. Nico (A Travellers Journey) November 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    Quite a site, really striking.

  7. twoscamps November 12, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    What a strange place. That’s good you missed the crowds!

  8. NewLifeOnTheRoad (@NewLifeOnRoad) November 12, 2012 at 11:20 pm #

    cant imagine the speed racing cars even being there – it looks incredible! Great photos ;)

  9. Cool Berman November 13, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    I love it! :D

  10. blinkpack November 14, 2012 at 1:22 am #

    From afar it looks like snow. They must look lovelier when seen firsthand.

  11. Katie Glenn November 14, 2012 at 9:03 am #

    What a surreal looking place, very cool!

  12. Atari November 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm #

    Speed Week is definitely on my bucket list! Great article!

  13. Arizona girl November 18, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    Very cool!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Utah in the Rearview Mirror | Everywhere Once - December 21, 2012

    [...] So iconic are its landscapes that it’s common to think these dusty red rocks represent the whole of Utah. A several hour drive northward reveals something else entirely. Head west and you’ll find a barren wasteland of a completely different variety, the Bonneville Salt Flats. [...]

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