As a kid one of my favorite movies was the epic film Ben-Hur, starring Charlton Heston. The chariot race in the movie was about as action packed as a bull in a china shop. One thing about the movie that always seemed to perplex me was the part after Ben-Hur won the chariot race, he received a crown made of leaves. That's it? After all he endured all he won was a crown made of leaves? As a kid, I never understood that moment. I understand it now. He wasn't racing for money-his motives were different. While modern racers competing at the Bonneville Salt Flats are not horsewhipping each other and racing side by side, as they did in ancient Rome, some similarities do exist. A strong-willed personality, a vision, a vehicle, and a dedicated race team aren't any different than the ancient charioteers. Bonneville racers are not competing for silver cups or cash sponsorships from soda companies, or hardware stores. The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) wants racing on the salt flats to be about the experience of being there. Building and piloting a vehicle that will propel you past the timing clocks and into the record books is at the very core of what land speed racing is all about. The experience, participation, and possibility of receiving the coveted red hat that reads, "200 MPH CLUB" is akin to that crown of leaves. Last year saw a record amount of entrants on the salt. Perhaps the movie The Worlds Fastest Indian served as an inspiration for many racers to get out there and see what they are made of. There were 330 vehicles and 103 bikes, with a combined total of 2,018 timed runs during one week. One of the race teams we paid close attention to this year was the So-Cal Speed Shop and GM Performance Division team. GM and So-Cal partnered and built a couple of fast vehicles to test on the salt. GM and So-Cal set three world speed records that week, including the first-ever Bonneville record using E85 ethanol. These three photos are of the car being prepped after a timing run and a pre-dawn shot of the vehicle in impound. Running only on E85 ethanol, the Student Project Cobalt SS (built by three female engineering student interns: 19-year-old Heather Chemistruck from Virginia Tech University, 21-year-old Lauren Zimmer from Purdue University, and 21-year-old Sandra Saldivar of New Mexico State University)... These three photos are of the car being prepped after a timing run and a pre-dawn shot of ...broke the previous 19-year-old record of 152.626 mph set by Doc Jeffries in 1987, with a speed of 156.073 mph, and then upped that mark twice using E85 combined with nitrous oxide to its final mark of 172.680 mph in the G/FCC class (G Class/Unblown Fuel Competition Coupe). ...broke the previous 19-year-old record of 152.626 mph set by Doc Jeffries in 1987, with Once a vehicle qualifies to beat the previous record, it is immediately impounded until the next morning when it can return to the same course for a record run. The combined average between the qualifying and record return runs is what establishes a record. Once a vehicle qualifies to beat the previous record, it is immediately impounded until th The HHR you see here was destroyed in one of the ugliest looking accidents on the salt. It rolled and tumbled like dice on a craps table. Due to the stringent safety standards set by the SCTA and employed by the vehicle builders at So-Cal, driver Jim Minneker was OK. The HHR you see here was destroyed in one of the ugliest looking accidents on the salt. It He suffered only a sore neck and minor bruises. Jim was attempting to break the previous record set by the HHR of 226.835 mph. He did just that, after he hit 246.686 mph, nearly 20 mph over the record. He suffered only a sore neck and minor bruises. Jim was attempting to break the previous r Another record was set in the So-Cal/GM Cobalt, 246.849 mph, by Mark Dickens, a GM engineer and driver. This record breaking run earned Mark his coveted membership in the 200 mph club. Another record was set in the So-Cal/GM Cobalt, 246.849 mph, by Mark Dickens, a GM enginee Interestingly enough Mark piloted both the So-Cal Cobalt and the student E-85 Cobalt that week. Interestingly enough Mark piloted both the So-Cal Cobalt and the student E-85 Cobalt that Besides following the exploits of the GM/ So-Cal Speed Shop team, the greatest part of Bonneville is witnessing and photographing the other makes and models of hot rods that show up on the salt, such as these three vehicles you see here. This red '57 Chevy is owned by Don Bajurin. He normally road races this '57, but decided to try to go flat out for the first time on the salt. Besides following the exploits of the GM/ So-Cal Speed Shop team, the greatest part of Bon This '88 Camaro you see runs in an oddball class. The mill hiding under the hood is 500 horse 1955 GM inline 6. Don't think this Camaro can't spank the hell out of a small-block, cause it does. This '88 Camaro you see runs in an oddball class. The mill hiding under the hood is 500 ho This "Holy Hugger Orange" '69 Camaro is owned and operated by Dale Williams from Wyoming. Perhaps the most intriguing piece of news from the salt this year was from Al Oppenheiser, the director of the GM Performance division. Oppenheiser had a hand in the rebirth of the new Chevy Camaro, and during a conversation with Al we asked if GM will have the new Camaro running like a scalded ape out on the salt. According to Al, if he has anything to say about it, yes, there will be a new Camaro on the salt flats. We can only hope that the powers that be at GM will see the success of its Performance Division on the salt, and give Al and his team the green light for a salt flats version of the 2009 Camaro. Without a doubt Super Chevy we'll be there for that event. If you're interested in attending Bonneville one year or even racing, checkout the official SCTA Web site www.scta-bni.org, if you want to see more completely random Bonneville photos, take a look at the Super Chevy Web site www.superchevy.com. See you on the salt in 2007 and beyond. Enjoyed this Post? 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