Saturday, August 11, 2007
10:14 am - Blair meets us in the lobby and we return to the buffet for another brutal calorie fest.
11:10 am - drive up the street to the Pilot truckstop for ice, beer, and emailing. It's the only place in town with internet access and party supplies.
11:45 am - we stop at Blair's motel to tour his sumptuous accommodations. Nothing says Ron Jeremy-style class like a blue velour sofa against synthetic woodgrain paneling. Wocka-chicka wocka chicka!
12:30 pm - Back in the pits, but the Belly Tank is gone. Bobby made his first run in the morning, hitting 103 mph in the first mile when the water pump shaft broke. Luckily he had made it far and fast enough to qualify for the class record. The car is now in impound while Bobby, Lucky and Drew furiously work to fix it within a 4-hour time limit.
Via Coop, Bobby opens the canopy
More shots from Coby - proprieter of Church, the world's fine-artiest car magazine. Buy one now.
1:45 pm - While the crew races against the clock to repair the water pump, we explore the impound / inspection area. To Blair's delight we stumble across an Aussie classic - a '52 Chevy Ute, complete with right hand drive.
2:30 pm cheesehead hot rod stalwart Bob Klessig (defacto mayor of Bonneville) shanghais Blair for a guided tour of the Bonneville grounds. Inspired by a couple of passing 250 mph runs, HawkSpawn mounts Lucky's PBR minibike and tears off. I stay put for the beer, weirdness, and 300 mph passes.
Nothing says hi-performance nutrition like sun-cooked Chef Boy-ar-dee...
... just ask the nattily attired WyoTech boys.
Midwest represent... no coast, bitches!
3:20 PM - Good news! Water pump shaft is fixed, with a MIG welding assist from the Ford Fusion 999 hydrogen car team, who will later set a world hydrogen record of 207 mph. If the Old Crow stays together during tomorrow morning's backup run, it will have one of its own. In anticipation Bobby starts chilling the celebration juice: A 50-year old bottle of Old Crow (h/t Coop).
3:40 PM - Tim's back from his guided tour with Bob, and Bob offers the same to me and HawkSpawn. We jump at the opportunity to see some starting line action and to get some breeze (the ambient air temp is 102 F). When we hop in Bob's Chebby ragtop, the backs of my thighs inform me that the vinyl upholstery is approximately 5 degrees warmer than the solar surface. Bob snaps the Chebby into gear as my girlish screams of pain echo off the distant mountainside.
We chew the fat about the transmission problems plaguing Keith's modified roadster, when we discover a problem of our own - Bob's temp gauge is pegged at 260 degrees. We haul ass to get some air in the radiator coils, to no avail; the electric fan has taken a dump. We abort the 5 mile trip to the starting line and wheeze back into the pits.
The disappointment is short lived because back in the pits the crew is wrenching the Beatty lakester, one of the main inspirations for the Old Crow. Amazing car, and a Bonneville landmark. Owner / driver Tom Beatty built it in 1951 and it tore a 211 mph world record using Mercury flathead power. A few years later he swapped it for a 303 Olds, destroked to 260 inches and topped with a GMC blower and six Stromberg 97s. In that trim he smoked past 260 mph, another record.
And there it it, large as life, under the Old Crow canopy.
The Beatty It was tracked several years ago by Dave Simard (the hot rodding world's answer Indiana Jones) and has remained unaltered from its late 50s Olds configuration. Now that the Old Crow is fixed, the boys are tinkering to get it running under its own power. Unfortunately, 50-year old helicoiled repairs on the quickchange's pinion mean the rear axle is shot. But it doesn't mean the the engine can't be started. And when that ancient Olds fired up, it lets out the sweetest exhaust note I have ever heard. A week later, the hairs on my neck are still at attention.
5:22 PM - The sun is glaring off the salt. Hawkspawn screams by on the minibike. I've got 12 ounces of cold brew in my hand, life is good. I look over at Blair. No compassionate head tilts here. Just a silent nod to acknowledge the total freaking awesomeness of it all.
5:35 PM - Hawkspawn walks the minibike back to the pits, accompanied by a female SCTA official. It's his first bust: underage speeding at Bonneville effin' Salt Flats. I pretend to give him a glance of disapproval, and the official gives him some stickers. I wipe my eye.
"Hey Dad, are you crying?"
Nah, kid. It must be the salt, or something.
6:35 PM - We head back to Wendover and browse some pawn shop windows. Blair is flying back to Sydney from SFO on Monday, and still hasn't found a way to get to San Francisco. He drops Hawkspawn and I at the Montego Bay, and goes off to arrange his travel.
8:17 PM - Meet Blair back over at the parking lot car car show at the Nugget. Turns out Wendover has no planes, no buses, no rental cars. To spare him the long monorail ride to San Francisco, Hawkspawn and I will drive with Blair to Salt Lake tomorrow to catch a plane. More cool cars in the parking lot tonight, and badder craziness. As always the chief instigator is noted Hoosier libertine Johnny Sparkles. The Man, the Myth, the Legend:
Mister, if you wanna roll with the Sparkles, you gotta shine. And be prepared for an evening of unspeakable decadence. I cover Hawkspawn's eyes and usher him back to the hotel room, lest he be witness to a Sparklesque debauchery. We play some video games and crash.
To Be Continued