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1997 Season

Muroc Speedweek World of Speed World Finals


World Finals/FIA Runs (October 15-18, 1997)

We left Redding late Monday afternoon for the Bonneville Salt Flats for our final race of the year, stopping over in Lovelock Nevada for the night, arriving in Wendover mid-afternoon Tuesday. After getting checked in at the Red Garter Hotel, we went out to the track to get our pits setup and attend the driver's meeting.

We found about 40 other die-hard racers assembled on the salt. A course had been prepared which allowed the FIA cars a five mile approach from each direction at a mile timing trap (11.2 miles in all). FIA records allow as much approach as available to the timed mile or kilometer and require a run from opposing directions within one hour. The BNI entries are allowed a maximum of four miles approach to the last timed mile.

Wednesday morning we were able to get the car inspected, and did the necessary preparation to the car to make it race ready. After returning to Wendover to pickup our sons, Jeff and Barry, who had flown in from Red Bluff, California, we returned to the salt to make our first run.

Because of the handling problems we had experienced at the previous two meets, I thought it wise, since I have more experience in the driver's seat, that I make the first run to check out the changes we had made to the car. I found a race course to be very poor in the first two miles, improved for the next three, but, with the Nitrous Oxide on, was unable to get the traction needed for a comfortable run. The time in the last mile was 224+ with lots of wheel slippage. The car went straight however.

There were cars that were doing exceptionally well. The Vesco/Nish Turbine Powered Streamliner ran the fastest mile ever timed by our association, a one-way speed of 429+ MPH in the FIA mile, but was unable to complete the return run because of a vibration caused by a twisted drive line. The Vesco/Nish Chevy-Powered Streamliner made an average of 344 MPH (both four wheel drive cars) and Earl Wooden's Competition Coupe ran 269, bettering his Speed Week times. Our car however was not getting the power to the ground.

Jeff made a couple of runs, a 208 and 213 MPH which fell short of qualifying for the record (221.898 MPH) saying that the rear wheels were slipping on straight alcohol and when he turned on the Nitrous Oxide it was getting really loose. On the last run turnout one front wheel hit a hole and broke a suspension arm. It appeared that the extra weight we had added was too much for the front end as designed. We removed 200 pounds, repaired the broken arm and returned to the track. On this run Jeff turned on the Nitrous at the 31/2 mile, the car immediately drifted to the left, and when he corrected, it snapped around to the right into a long slide, then back to the left again spinning around a couple of times, into another long slide and then rolled over. It was timed through that mile at 191+ MPH while spinning around two times and rolling over once. It went over two more times after exiting the mile, coming to rest on its wheels. Jeff was not injured, and the car received less damage than I had expected.

There were at least two other cars that crashed during the meet. George Field's driver crashed his 125  B/FCC (top of page) after exiting the last mile with a speed of 260 MPH. This wreck was almost identical to the one that George had a couple of years ago when he crashed after completing a run at 307 MPH. The car was totally destroyed, but the driver was OK. There was a Turbine Powered Streamliner that went over, too.

We haven't given up! We will rebuild the car, making the changes needed to get the power to the ground. It has been a very difficult, but, educational year. We have talked to numerous car builders and aerodynamics experts. There are things we can do within the rules that will make it a better car aerodynamically. At the speeds we are now running getting through the air is a bigger concern than making more horsepower. THERE IS ALWAYS NEXT YEAR.

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World of Speed: (September 24-27, 1997)
This was the 11th annual World of Speed, which is sanctioned and put on by the Utah Salt Flat Racer's Association (USFRA). Until 1986 there was only one chance per year to make your mark at Bonneville. With the entry of USFRA, which offers a tune up meet the latter part of July and World of Speed in September, and SCTA/BNI adding the World Finals in October, we now have four opportunities to break records, or our cars. Of course all these meets are subject to interruption or cancellation because of weather.

After making repairs to the car, we made the trip to the Salt again in September. Our car is one of two that have been entered at all eleven W.O.S. meets. A display of determination, I guess.

We were quite happy with the car's performance, a best mile speed of 233.584 MPH and an exit speed of 237.843. This qualified for a shot at the record (221.898 MPH), which we set in 1990 with our previous car (the Pierson Coupe). It was not to be however, a spin again on the return run, this time in the second mile trap in excess of 210 MPH. We did get this spin on video and are able to analyze what is happening. We know that the front end was about four feet in the air and the hood left at the first quarter of rotation, coming down hard in the next quarter, the whole car looked to be suspended during the last of the rotation.

We are now making the needed changes to the car and repairing body parts that were ejected during the spin. We are adjusting the center of gravity on the car by adding 500 pounds of lead on the front of the car, and making changes in the Nitrous throttle switch so that we have smoother engagement. We will leave for the World Finals Monday 10/13, the meet is scheduled for October 15-18. We will see how the changes to the car affect our performance. Naturally we are expecting to return with a new record in the 230 MPH range. I will update this on our return.

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Speed Week: (August 16-22-97)

The biggest meet of the year on the Salt Flats is "Speed Week" sanctioned by Bonneville Nationals Inc. (BNI). BNI was formed in 1962 as the governing body which produces the meet. It's Board of Directors is selected from the membership of the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA).

SCTA is joined by becoming a member of an affiliated club. BNI membership is open to all who desire to join. In order to run a car at the BNI meets, the driver and the car owner must be members of BNI. For more information on either of these associations click on Bonneville Nationals.

We were able to run the short course (three mile of running distance, a two mile approach to a 1/4 and one mile timing trap) Saturday, (opening day) and on Sunday opened the long course ( five miles of running distance, a two mile approach at five separate timing traps, a 1/4, 1 mile, 2 mile, 3 mile and a 132 foot exit timing traps). This year's meet was interrupted by rain late Sunday causing a day and a half of down time. Racing resumed midday Tuesday with a better than expected race course and excellent weather.

There were many records set during the week, unfortunately we were not among those that rejoiced. Our best time was a 212.557 MPH in the middle mile, then accelerating to about 220 MPH by the middle of the next mile. Jeff lost control of the car and it spun, (two complete turns) and coasted to a stop on the right side of the course near the return road. Except for a shaken driver, some damage to body panel that were removed during the spin, and the hopes dashed for that meet, luck road with us. As the saying goes, "there is always next meet".

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2nd Annual Muroc Dry Lakes Meet (April 29 & 30, 1997)
This year, and for the future, the officials at Edward's Air Force Base set aside an area of the lake bed on the south end to serve as a race course for the SCTA meets. Last year (our first time back on Muroc since before W.W.II) the course was adjacent to the main facilities at Edwards which posed a major security and crowd control problem.

Our mission at this meet was to get Jeff in the Muroc 200 MPH Club. I had set the record in D/FCC at the first Muroc Reunion with a 204 MPH pass to become a charter member of the Club. As usual we had some problems getting the car to make the numbers that we needed. After two passes at 185 MPH with the Nitrous Solenoid failing to function, we found that a fuel pressure safety switch, which is designed to prevent the Nitrous from turning on unless there is adequate fuel pressure, was  malfunctioning. We by-passed the switch and succeeded with a 219.816 MPH. Now our next goal is to gain entry for Jeff into the Bonneville 200 MPH Club.

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