For over 100 years, about this time each summer from garages around the world, mechanics, engineers and daredevils begin their migration to Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats. The quest for top speed on the salt began with the first record set there in 1914, and barring weather related events, the Southern California Timing Association continues to meet for a week of record run attempts every August. Unfortunately for competitors and fans, after being rained out in 2014, the SCTA has made the decision that there aren’t long enough courses available to run on the salt this year. Heavy rains around the salt flats have contributed to run off from the surrounding mountains, covering the white surface with excessive mud and moisture. An attempt to use a pair of smaller courses was ultimately ruled out, and a makeup event has been scheduled to take place at the Mojave Airport, home of the Mojave Mile.
With any luck the salt will be ready for at least one of the remaining five events this year, but just in case it’s not, here’s a sampling of last years World of Speed event. Shot on film, because hot rod race cars! Pay attention to the #555 blue streamliner, the Challenger II (lead photo). Built nearly 50 years back by the legendary Mickey Thompson, it never got to run to it’s full potential because of you guessed it, rain. The project was shelved for decades, eventually to be brought back for an attempted collaboration with his son Danny before Mickey and his wife were brutally murdered in 1988. Untouched for more than 40 years, on the 50th anniversary of his fathers 406mph pass in Challenger I, Danny pulled the Challenger II from storage and began the long process of fulfilling it’s legacy. These pictures show the Challenger II in the staging lanes before it’s first full throttle run, on which it reached a speed of 419mph in the measured mile. Weather has denied Danny a few more times since in his quest to claim the wheel driven top speed record, but he’s hungry for it, and on a mission. 2015 may not be his year, but with any luck we’ll be there for his next attempt.