13 October 2004

More on Bonneville and Natural Gas

This item appeared in today's Sierra Sun, my home town paper. In light of yesterday's post on The Salt and Fixer's post on blowing up a local car dealer (from inside the men's room, no doubt), I couldn't resist. Besides, it's fun.

Kids, and especially boys, often have a fascination with speed and cars when they're young.

If that's true, I hope I never get over being young.

The current land speed record for a wheel-driven car was set in 2001 by Don Vesco. He drove his "Turbinator" car 458.44 mph over the course at Bonneville.

On the salt flats this week, Lessman will run with a 600 horsepower CNG engine that he predicts will get him up to 300-plus mph. Eventually, for the record attempt, turbo chargers and a nitrous oxide system will bump that horsepower up to around 2,000, which he believes should allow him to better Vesco's mark of 458 mph.

Slim Pickens' final ride in Dr. Strangelove comes to mind.

"One of the things that's cool about it is you go out there and you do all this stuff and it's simply because you like to do it," he said. "There's no money in it. It's really the last true amateur auto race of significance in the world right now. All the other auto races - NASCAR, Indy cars, drag races - have become so commercialized that it's tough to be involved anymore because it costs millions of dollars. And this stuff you can still go out and it's strictly amateur: If you set a world record everybody comes around, buys you a beer, pats you on the back and gives you a $25 trophy."

That's the spirit.

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