Bill Barnes may have been one of the most unlikely heroes of the last Ohio Mile event of the 2014 season but it turned out he certainly was the most historically significant. Barnes, riding a steam powered motorcycle of his own construction went over 80mph on his fasest pass of the weekend, nearly tripling the existing record for a steam powered motorcycle recorded almost 120 years ago. The bike is a steam purist's dream as it is 100% mechanical and uses no electronic monitoring or modern tomfoolery. It was a true pleasure to watch this baby operate and even moreoso knowing that Bill was chasing some big history with it. We hope to see him back next year so that he can bump his own number.
Being that 2014 was a complete wash at Speed Week, I delved back into my photo archives to see what coolness was lurking in there from 2013. I found some cool engine shots and that got me looking for more.
While lots of people are seduced by the amazing bodies and incredible chassis fabrication at Bonneville, I am a knuckle dragging, horsepower loving kind of dude, so motors are my obsession. There are so many different ways to get your car down the salt and no two are exactly alike. They look different, sound different, and all make different amounts of power. From the old Indian motorcycle engines that are working for all they are worth at relatively low speeds to the nitro burning monsters powering a couple of the streamliners (as well as roadsters and other cars!) and everything in between, internal combustion exists in a myriad of forms on the salt. The 16 photos below don’t necessarily represent by 16 favorite engines or 16 engines I have been dreaming about, but they do show a huge cross section of power plants.
Of all the impressive stuff I witnessed on the salt, the thing that sticks with me the most is how much horsepower guys are able to get out of stuff like a GMC 302 inline six, a flathead Cadillac, and other engines of that ilk. We’re talking several times improvement over the factory rating and sustaining that power at WOT for miles and miles on end. That is super impressive stuff as even the best modern parts are at the mercy of the prehistoric aged block that they’re living in.
One of my favorite cars to watch at ECTA meets is the belly tank lakesker of Connecticut's Ron San Giovanni. Powered by a flathead V8 that appears to be wearing a hat which looks very similar to an 8-71 blower, it sounds the business and can wick up to more than 170mph by the end of the mile long course. On Ron’s first run in 2013, things were looking good as he made a clean lap with respect to the front half of the course, but things went awfully wrong for him in the shutdown area. Just as he crossed the timing trap at the end of the course, the car launched into a series of spins that show you a cool, albeit high speed panorama of the facility. After sliding off the course, the car got into the grass and thankfully stayed on all fours. It sure was wild to watch it go down from the announcer’s stand. In true racer fashion, Ron got it cleaned up and hit the track again, running 170mph later in the afternoon with no spinning dramatics. That was cool to see.
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE SOME CRAZY IN-CAR VIDEO FROM THE OHIO MILE – WHAT IT IS LIKE TO SPIN A LAKESTER AT TERMINAL VELOCITY! CRAZY STUFF!
Sometimes you just need something cool to balance our your day, especially on a Sunday when you are relaxing and gearing up for a work week that is looming ahead. We found a couple of really amazing films taken at Bonneville in the early 1950s that show everything from the SCTA setting up the course, to the technical inspection process, to hot rods racing down the salt. My first experience at Bonneville came last year and it forever changed me and my understanding about hat exactly happens out there on the vast whiteness of the salt flats. The thing that I was most interested to see was how the experience stacked up against the old films and videos I have watched over the years, similar to the ones you see below. Outside of the look of the push trucks and some of the more modern aerodynamic designs, I believe that it looks and feels much the same as you’ll see in these videos.
Yes, there are more spectators for the first few days, but let’s be honest. The place is still in the middle of absolute nowhere, the cars are all very cool and unique and outside of some banners and stuff there is no corporate presence that is dominating the racing. No pyro, no jumbo-trons, nothing of that sort is even on the radar at Bonneville. The whole point of the exercise is for people to bring their stuff to one of the harshest environments on Earth and run it as hard and as fast as it can go just like it was 100 years ago when the first runs were made there.
The 2014 running of Bonneville Speed Week will be something else because of the fact that it is the 100th anniversary of the world’s coolest natural race track being used for top speed runs and the best part is that the 100th will be honored as the 1st and 99th were, by the hard work and peak performances of the racers that flock there every August. People talk about the purity of competition at Bonneville and what we can tell you is that it still feels the same way that these videos look and that has only been through the hard work and dedication of the SCTA. THIS is some truly neat stuff. Watch the videos below.
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE THREE FANTASTIC FILMS FROM BONNEVILLE IN THE 1950S -
One of the things that has presented the steepest learning curve for a life-long car only enthusiast is figuring our the madness that is motorcycle land speed racing. There's a massive array of classes, engines, and chassis that riders use. Entertainment value from 50cc all the way up to the big, hairy turbo bikes is high and with each meet I find myself learning a little more about these neat machines. In this video we ride along with Joe Heffernan with the awesomely named FoilHat Racing crew as he rips down to the fastest 500cc mile pass ever at a shade above 185mph.
The most interesting thing about this video is watching Heffernan deal with a crossing headwind at speed. Having seen many motorcycles come through the traps with some "lean", it is a completely different thing to actually see what that looks like from the driver's perspective. Wow does it look creepy! Joe kept the throttle pinned wide open on this run and you can actually see the digital dash reporting the RPM and speed of the motorcycle as it streaks down course.
This is a fun rider's eye view of what it is like to tackle the course on a motorcycle!
One of the things that we love about land speed racing is the diversity of the equipment that we see at every meet. Between vintage cars and motorcycles, modern cars with vintage engines, incredible looking streamliners and lakesters, or just plain freaks that are fast it is a sport unlike any other. The proof of that statement is in the pudding, so let's have some in the form of the video below which plunks us right in the cockpit of an AMC Gremlin packed full of turbocharged Chevy engine. On this run, the car that normally sees drag strip duty runs 202mph through the lights on a cold day at the 2012 Hot Rod Magazine Top Speed Challenge, which takes place at the first meet of our season each year.
As the air is both friend and enemy to land speed racers, let's pay attention to the effect that air has on the fiberglass cowl hood that this car wears. To say that some "things are happening" at the top end of this run at 200mph would be an understatement. Watch that thing flex, flop, and move!
DIYAutoTune's MegaSquirt 3-Pro 240SX Sets 7 Records in 7 Passes
#787 sings The Alphabet Song with records in classes AA, A, B, C, D, E, F… and F/BGALT
Atlanta, GA: Today, DIYAutoTune, an industry leader in feature-rich plug-n-play and professional engine management systems, announced that their #787 MegaSquirt 3-Pro powered Nissan 240SX returned from the East Coast Timing Association's Ohio Mile owning land speed records in 6-of-15 blown gas coupe classes and one in altered. The weekend's success marks 8 total records for the DIYAutoTune team with surprisingly more in their sights.
DIYAutotune CEO/ driver Jerry Hoffmann purpose-built the Toyota 3.0 Liter 2JZ-GTE motor specifically for the F-class, which has a maximum displacement of 3.014 L. However, no class rules prevent competing within larger motor classes, so the team decided to make a run for as many records as possible. The outcome was really astonishing: 7 new records in 7 passes, several in classes where purpose-built motors are more than twice the displacement! Here are the official race results:
Run Class Displacement (cid) Displacement (L) New Record/ Previous (mph)
1 E/BGC 184.00-260.99 3.015-4.276 204.64/ 166.63
2 D/BGC 261.00-305.99 4.277-5.014 203.53/ 194.13
3 F/BGALT 123.00-183.99 2.016-3.014 205.38/ Open
4 C/BGC 306.00-372.99 5.015-6.111 194.22/ Open
5 B/BGC 373.00-439.99 6.112-7.209 203.71/ 136.69
6 A/BGC 440.00-500.99 7.210-8.209 203.98/ 134.12
7 AA/BGC 501.00+ 8.210+ 203.98/ Open
The DIYAutoTune 240SX Land Speed Project began in 2010. Producing the first record was nearly 5 years in the making, representing the sheer grit and determination involved. Now the team is on a roll and the sky's the limit! Follow the journey from the beginning on our current Bonneville or Bust blog page: http://www.diyautotune.com/cars/project/diyautotune_s13_240sx.htm
DIYAutoTune has built a strong following in the drag racing and road racing industries. Based in Suwanee, GA, DIYAutoTune is the leading manufacturer of MegaSquirt® Engine Management Systems. Made at our facility in the USA, we offer an affordable way to run your race car on a fully programmable fuel injection and ignition controller, with plenty of high end features such as individual cylinder trims, progressive nitrous control, boost control, 3 step rev limiters, VVT control for up to 4 cams, and spare outputs to control just about anything! Our MegaSquirt 3-Pro Stand Alone and MSPNP-Pro Plug-N-Play systems are the most robust and cost-effective in the market today.
DIYAutoTune would like to officially thank our sponsors: Prestolite-Quicktime, Powerhouse Racing, Ball Engines, Rev Valves, Cool Shirt, Stance, Fat Cat Fabrication, Zen Motors, Simpson, DJ Safety & Bell Intercoolers. Parts Vendors: Precision Turbo, Mahle Pistons, Manley, DynoTech, King Bearings, G-Force Transmissions, Goodyear, BF-Goodrich & Aeromotive, Dailey Engineering, Rear End Shop, Swift Racing Technology.
It is always fun when we get to see the #71 head down the mile at Wilmington because it represents a lot of history, blood, sweat, and tears. We don't normally equate NASCAR racers with the land speed racing world but Dave Marcis sure fits the bill. He had the land speed racer's mentality and spirit in a sport that certainly does not breed it. One of the last truly independant drivers, team owners, mechanics, and all around wrenchmen in the realm of professional stock car racing he defined what it meant to be a hard nosed racer until his retirement a little more than a decade ago. Now in his 70s, Marcis still love going fast and we sure love seeing him at Wilmington.
For those of you at the September meet you know that he provided us with a little bit of a thrill on his first run and lots of laughs on his second run when he hauled his nearl 220mph stock car down to make the first turn off after going a little on the long side the first trip down. He's a racer through and through and this film about what his career and life after NASCAR has been like really is great. You'll see footage of him racing back in the day as well as making a rip down the Ohio Mile as well. Truly a great watch!
PRESS PLAY BELOW TO SEE DAVE MARCIS, THEN AND NOW!
Greg Neal and TLN Motorsports returned to Wilmington, OH on September 27-28th for the last round of the ECTA Land Speed Racing season featuring the Street Bike Shootout with high expectations knowing it would be the last event for the teams 2006 Kawasaki ZX-6rr. The goal was 6 new Land Speed Racing records and to win the N/A 650cc Street Bike Shootout class.
As was announced at the driver's meeting prior to the start of the September meet, the July 2015 Ohiol Mile event will be held on the distance of a half mile instead of the normal mile format. Why? Historically the July meet has been very light on car count and that trend showed no signs of improving, so we decided to take it in a new direction.
The idea of hosting this meet as a half mile event is to cast a wider net for racers, spectators, and gearheads in general to come see what we are all about and what the sport of land speed racing is all about in a more accessible atmosphere. Getting a wider range of people onto the course and in an environment that is less intimidating for a new racer than a typical meet full of polished, veteran racers is the goal.
In the coming weeks we will be releasing more information, rules, and all that good stuff regarding this event that will be happening in July 2015. We're expecting lots of people who are brand new to the Ohio Mile and brand new to the world of land speed racing and you all know how that works! Once you get this stuff in your blood it is impossible to shake. The idea is to take the spark that some of these enthusiast have and turn that into the fire of competition that burns in the bellies of all of our racers.
We know how great our community is and we want to show that to a wide ranging group of people who have not discovered it yet.