The last time a wheel-driven car went 400-plus miles per hour was 25 years ago, almost to the day.
Five drivers will be in Utah this weekend to try to change that and go after the world record during the Mainstay World of Speed on the salty-white track of Bonneville Salt Flats.According to race organizer Terry Nish, 100 of the fastest land-speed cars in the country were sent special invitations to race and 94 reserved salt time. Five of those cars will be going for the record set by Bob and Bill Summers back in 1965 of 409.277 mph.
- Bruce Crower of Jumal, Calif., with a single-engine car, with a new belt design in tires, that he says is capable of 442 mph.
- Chet Herbert, Anaheim, Calif., with a four-engine car similar to the Summers' vehicle that he feels is capable of reaching 500 mph.
- Don Vesco of San Diego, Calif., with a twin-engine car with two new Offy engines he feels is a contender for Summers' record.
- Al Teague, Santa Fe Springs, Calif., with the fastest "active" car in the world. Last year he turned 397 mph and this year 393 mph on the salt. He plans on being the first single-engine car to break the 400 mph mark.
- Rick White, San Diego, has corrected some problems he encountered earlier this year and feels his single-engine car has the potential of 440 mph.
During a press conference Wednesday, Crower explained that his newest salt racer has a motor and tires of his design, but the dimensions came from a fish.
"Yes, the upper half of a brook trout," he said. "The brook trout is one of the fastest fish of prey. They have to be. They're streamlined and very aerodynamic."
He is most proud of the tires, however. Or, in this case belts.
He said that what always stopped him from making a high-speed car in the past was the tires.
"They're filled with air and the air is always trying to get out where it belongs. I've seen too many tires fly apart at high speeds. These tires are belts fit over aluminum wheels that are grooved."
Teague said he will be going for the Summers' record, but would be just as happy to break the 400 mph mark. Should he do it he would be the first to drive a single-engine car to go over 400.
The event will begin Friday and close Monday afternoon. First runs will begin at 8 a.m. each day.