If you do not get cars, go away now, look for some cat memes on Facebook. Find out how organic quinoa will make you live longer and be more boring than you ever imagined possible. Go away. This is not the place for you.
I’ve mentioned before my love of all things automotive, and my particular fondness for pointless endeavours on two or four wheels. Nothing epitomises pointless quite as well as Bonneville Speed Week. I spent an enthralling time on Sunday watching a documentary about it.
In case you don’t know how it works, every year a bunch of dyed-in-the-wool headcases rock up at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. They bring with them a lot of vehicles and a huge stack of ingenuity in order to drive as fast as possible in a straight line.
That’s all they do. Pedal to the metal flat out straightlining. Pointless.
There’s a class for just about any vehicle you can think of, and if the class doesn’t exist they create one for you. Just turn up, pay your money, and off you go. Did you know there’s a class for ‘Naked Motorcycles’? Nor did I, but what it means is a motorbike with no streamlining fairings. A woman managed 208 mph ‘naked’ as they say, riding a stripped down Kawasaki Hayabusa.
On the subject of streamlining, there was an entry in the Sports Coupe category cars that was an abomination. It started life as a 1966 Plymouth Barracuda, a car so pig ugly it should have been left on a hillside at birth. To make things worse, the team appeared to have taken the front end off a Plymouth Superbird and glued it on. Hideous. Just look at it and try not to puke.
I couldn’t fault the engine though, since it came in at a hefty 610 cubic inches/10 litres. Sadly, you could fault the gearchange. They got the car rolling using a pushcar (the gearing is a bit tall for getting off the line without buggering up the clutch) and all went swimmingly till the driver tried to get out of first gear, which the gearbox simply refused to do. Bear in mind the car was doing the thick end of 150 mph. In first gear.
A lot of the cars/bikes are pretty low tech and built in a barn somewhere in Horsecollar, Nebraska, but some pointyheads from Ohio State University turned up with a $4,000,000 streamliner running on hydrogen. The organisers looked a bit askance at this, citing safety fears. What? Some redneck spannerhead knocks up a car from an old aircraft droptank, shoves in a 1930s flathead V8 running on nitromethane and a bit of benzene as an anti-detonant, and that’s safe? What could possibly go wrong with an 80 year old engine on the ragged edge? Those OSU dweebs? What do they know about safety?
As it happens the OSU guys couldn’t get it to run. Back to the drawing board. Back to the drawing board for one of the other streamliners too. That got badly out of shape at about 290. Not much left of it. Most of what remained would fit in a good size totebag.
Whoever thought going in a straight line was so tricky?