As I followed the progress of the Salt-2-Salt racing team building their Bonneville Salt Flats '53 Studebaker in 2004, I couldn't help but get caught up in the excitement of being a part of history as the build team was racing the clock to get the Studie race-ready by the departure deadline. Heck, I even helped out a little - enough to get my name included on the list of sponsors and friends on the trunk. I had persuaded the race team to allow me to join them in their maiden voyage to Bonneville with the Studie. I had taken time off work and made hotel reservations in Wendover. This would be my first trip to Bonneville and I was going to be there with a real land speed race team. Life was good.
But, I hate to admit that as the departure deadline approached and the Studie was still a long way from being race-ready, I started to lose faith like a Christmas/Easter Catholic. I wasn't sure if I'd get another chance to go to Bonneville if I went that year and I didn't want to waste that trip if the Studie was going to be a no-show. After a week of all-nighters, the mighty Stude fired up the night before the re-scheduled departure time. I had already cancelled my room in Wendover and had convinced myself that I would pass this year and go next year. Since I was still on vacation from work, I helped with the last minute preparations and helped load the trailer for the trip. The next morning, as the trailer was closed up and the crew was getting ready to head west, they did their best to try to talk me into joining them. I really wanted to go, but in the pit of my stomach I didn't think the Stude would survive a full run down the course. After all, the engine had only been run less than 20 minutes and the car had only been driven a couple of blocks. Reluctantly, I stood in the alley by Ed Bauer's shop and watched the Salt-2-Salt crew head west.
I followed their adventures on the SCTA web site and kicked myself when I saw that they had driven their way into the record books. I had my chance to be there and share the excitement, but I gambled on logic instead of the determination of car guys. I told myself that I was definitely going to Bonneville with them next year.
Fast forward to the 2005 Bonneville Speed Week. This year, I did make the trip with the Salt-2-Salt race team. The following is a brief journal of the Bonneville trip as I experienced it. Actually, it really wasn't just a trip. It was more like a "Salt Odyssey."
Since the Studie had already been built for over a year and it was a veteran of the Salt Flats, you wouldn't think there would be the last minute rush to get it ready for this year's Speed Week. Hmm, guess again. The week before the big event reminded me of my garage the week before Back to the Fifties - mass confusion and late night thrashing to do all the things on the car that I had all year to do. But everything got completed and the Sodium Stude got loaded into Ed's enclosed car trailer (along with half his shop) around 11:00 Wednesday night, August 10th. The plan was to meet at Ed's shop at 7:00 the next morning, load our suitcases and be on the road by 8:00.
Thursday morning, we loaded our suitcases, gave Ed's Suburban and the car trailer a quick once-over inspection, and hit the road right on schedule - at 9:10. We were already over two hours ahead of last year's schedule. The road crew on the voyage consisted of Ed Bauer, Daryl Newman, Steve Brown, and me in Ed's Suburban. Joe Helm and Mark Theisen flew out on Friday. The other two members of the Bonneville Bunch, Greg Meyers and Bob Waitz, left the Twin Cities on Thursday morning and we met up with them in Sioux Falls around 1:00 that afternoon.
The first day on the road was pretty uneventful. We changed drivers every two or three hours. Ed's Suburban pulled the trailer great and was easy to drive once you got used to having passing semis suck you into them as they went by. I think the highlight of the first day's travel was watching Ed fight with his CB plug-in. He had a cigarette lighter plug-in on the CB and one of the wires was loose and kept falling out whenever we moved the CB or hit a bump. Hmm, an electrician with a wiring problem - go figure.
Our plan was to spend the night in Chadron, Nebraska. However, when we arrived there, we discovered all the hotels were full. It was about 8:00 at night and we hadn't had supper yet, so we headed over to a local bar and grill for a bite to eat and plan our next move. We ordered our food and were discussing the merits of just driving all night when Ed struck up a conversation with the bar owner. It turns out the owner is a Snap-On Tool rep, a biker, and a street rodder. Five minutes later, the bar owner had reservations for us at a motel in Crawford, a small town about 20 miles down the road. I guess Ed knows the right people to talk to. On second thought, Ed talks to everyone. Come to think of it, we chose this place to eat at because Ed asked the clerk at one of the motels we stopped at to recommend a place in town that served a good steak. This place definitely served a good steak. If you're ever in Chadron, Nebraska, I highly recommend Wrecker's Bar. I had a sirloin steak smothered in onions and mushrooms, homemade hash browns, and a big salad for $10.99. The steak was so tender you could cut it with a fork. I think that was the best meal of the trip.
Anyway, 20 miles later we pulled into the Bates, I mean, the Town Line Motel. It looked like it was built in 1950 and remodeled in 1953. But the rollaway bed sure felt good. We had survived the first day of our trip. We had a couple adult beverages to relax our nerves and turned in for the night.
Before I got out of bed the next morning, I made lots of noise so the cockroaches had time to find cover before I turned on the light. After a quick round of showers, we were on the road by 7:45. We mostly took back roads, so we got to see some interesting sights. Of course, Ed was always on the look out for Studebakers.
On the subject of Studebakers, I discovered there are Studie guys everywhere. Ed has a big Studebaker logo on the side of his trailer so every time we stopped for gas or food, some guy would come up and tell us about the Studebaker he owned or used to own. That Studebaker logo was like a Studie guy bug zapper. The funny part about it was we never actually saw any of the Studebakers that these guys claimed to own (and they all claimed to own three or four of them) and the guys all seemed a little, how can I put it, eccentric. No, they were just freakin' weird.
Day two, Friday, was also pretty uneventful. We saw some beautiful scenery and tons of motorcycles on the way to and from Sturgis. We even went through the smallest town I had ever been in - Lost Springs, Wyoming, population of 1 according to the city limits sign. After a couple food and fuel stops, we finally pulled into Wendover, Utah around 10:00 that night. We met up with Mark and Joe, washed down the road dust and got our rooms. We were planning on being on the salt by 7:00 the next morning, Saturday.
Saturday morning arrived and we were all scrambling to gather the things we would need to bring on the salt. The seasoned veterans had lectured Steve Brown and me about how vicious the sun can be on the salt and apparently, if you stand out in it for twenty minutes without moving, you'll burst into flames. I had the mandatory goofy-looking wide brimmed hat and a quart of spf 90 sunscreen. I even put sunscreen on my underwear. Hey, a guy can't be too careful. I decided I'd better start out with long pants the first day. I didn't want to spend the rest of the week nursing sunburned legs.
Even though I usually have a tough time getting my butt out of bed to get to work by 8:00, that morning, I was dressed, had breakfast, and was ready to go by 6:30. In fact, all of us were in the parking lot by 6:30. We had Bob Waitz's Ford pick-up and Ed's Suburban pulling the car trailer. We iced down our three coolers (two of them full of bottled waters) and hit the road to the salt flats. The veterans were going over our agenda and what the strategy for the day would be. I just stared out the truck window thinking, "God, I hope I don't burst into flames." I was just about to smear on another layer of sunscreen when I saw the Bonneville Speedway sign. The road ended and we drove onto the lake bed. It was really weird. It was identical to driving onto Lake Mille Lacs in January - except it was 75 degrees out. This year, recent rains had made the salt sticky and rough, so it was exactly like driving on snow. The groups of porta-potties even resembled fish houses. The lake bed is huge and is surrounded by mountains. It is very beautiful. Just seeing this made the whole trip worthwhile. Okay, the porta-potties didn't add to nature's splendor, but they sure were a welcome sight when it was time to answer nature's call.
We drove past the starting tower and headed towards the pits to find our assigned spot. As we drove, I now understood why we brought along a couple small motorcycles. Our pits were 4 miles from the starting line. By 7:15, we had found our assigned pit area and began setting up. We all began unloading the trailer. The first order of business was to lay out the tarp on the salt and set up the canopy. The second order of business was another warning about how to survive the salt and sun - drink lots of water and use lots of sunscreen. After a group sunscreen application, it was unload the Studie and get it ready to go to tech inspection. After everything was set up, the Salt-2-Salt guys finished up the last minute preparations on the car. Since I was mostly along for the ride (and to help pay for gas) and didn't want to interfere in their pre-race routine, I did what I do best. I sat in my lawn chair under the canopy and ate donuts. But I was ready to leap into action at any moment. At 9:30, we hooked up the tow bar to the Studie and pulled it over to tech inspection. Under SCTA rules, any time a race car is moved, it must be towed or pushed. The only time a race car can move under its own power is when it makes a speed run.
Luckily, the line for tech was short, so we got the car right in. As the SCTA inspectors crawled over every inch of the Studie, a small crowd gathered around it. Like I said earlier, those Studie guys are everywhere, especially on the salt. Inevitably, the conversations with these guys always started out with, "I used to have one of these" or "I've got a couple of these at home." For the life of me, I can't figure out how Studebaker couldn't still be in business. From listening to the guys we ran into, Studebaker must have sold at least three cars or trucks to every American of driving age. Anyway, back to the tech inspection. The inspectors found five minor items they wanted fixed before they would allow the car to run. Everything on the gig list was pretty minor - plug a couple small holes in the firewall, re-route the gas tank vent hose, rotate the seat belt mounts, have the fire extinguisher re-certified (a vendor was on site), and make a small modification to the battery hold downs. We were going to pull the car back to the pits to fix the gig list, but it was time for the driver's meeting followed by a drive down the course and the rookie meeting.
The driver's meeting was held at the starting tower. It was pretty neat standing by the starting line of one of the world's most famous race tracks, a shrine of speed where hot rodders have been racing against the clock for decades. Here I was, surrounded by a group of racers that were all attempting to make their mark in history. You could smell the excitement in the air. Or maybe it was just the smell of sunscreen. The main topic during the meeting was the condition of the salt. SCTA had graded, dragged, and done everything else they could do to smooth the track, but the rain had rendered the salt sticky and difficult to groom. This was as good as the salt was going to get. Apparently, the salt last year was as smooth as asphalt.
After the meeting, we got in our vehicles to drive the course and attend the rookie meeting. Driving down the course at about 50 mph, you could feel how rough the course was. Still, here we were, driving down the same salt on which legends of racing had pushed their cars and motorcycles to the limit to set world speed records. There was that smell again.
When the rookie meeting was over, we went back to the tech inspection area to hook up the Stude and bring it back to the pits. Back at the pits, it was a flurry of activity to fix the items on the gig list so the car could be re-inspected. After I finished another donut and bottle of water, I even helped. By about 3:00, every item on the list was completed and the Stude was ready to be towed back to tech. This time, Steve Brown & I stayed back in the pits since there wasn't room in the vehicles. SCTA broadcasts the runs over an AM radio station, so we sat under the canopy and listened to the broadcasts. We couldn't see the short course from our pits, but we could see the cars running on the long course. We were about at the 4-mile marker, so the big boys were usually running between 150 and 175 when they went by us. Of course, when I say "by us," I mean a quarter or half mile away from us. They need that space in case a car loses control. And according to the radio, a lot of cars were losing control. The rough course was causing some spins. Most of the spins occurred closer to the starting line, so we didn't see any of them. Steve & I tidied up the pit area and then relaxed with some cookies, chips, and water. We checked out some the cars in the pit spaces around ours and drank some more water.
Around 4:30, the Studie and the rest of the crew returned. The car had passed inspection and everyone that had intended to drive it passed the bailout test. In the bailout test, the driver has to be suited up in the fire suit and helmet and strapped in the car. At the command, he has to show the inspector what steps he takes to shut the car down in case of a fire at high speed and must be able to exit the car in a certain time span. Everyone was able to hit the power and fire switches, drop the window net, unbuckle the belts, and get out of the car in the allotted time. Since it was decided that it was too late to get the car back to the staging area before they closed for the day, we decided to call it a day and stage the car in the morning (Sunday). We celebrated our success in passing tech inspection by breaking into the "third cooler." This was the cooler that held some adult beverages. We had a couple beers, locked the tools in the trailer, secured the pit area against possible wind, and headed back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel, we all showered, changed clothes, and walked a few blocks to the Nugget Casino for dinner. The Nugget was like the headquarters hotel for the event. The parking lot was full of street rods, most of them rat rods covered with salt. The salt was like a badge of honor and the more salt on the car, the more attention the car got. Primer was definitely the paint of choice and people would walk right by cars with shiny paint to gawk at a suede rat rod. Most of the rat rods were pretty cool with old-timey motors and speed equipment, but a couple of them looked like they were unsafe at any speed.
After a big meal and some more car gazing, we headed back to the hotel. The long day finally caught up with us and we all went back to our rooms. You can tell we are getting older. Here we were, several states away from home on a wild adventure with the guys and we were fighting to stay awake past 10:00. We decided that since the Studie was all ready for a speed run in the morning, we would sleep in a little in the morning and meet in the parking lot by 8:00. That sounded great to me.
How did that first run in the morning go? Did we run out of donuts? Did we run out of sunscreen? Did I smell that smell again?
Sunday morning brought clear skies, warm temperatures and excitement for the Studie's first run of the year. Confident that I wouldn't self-combust on the Salt Flats, I decided to cast caution to the wind and wear shorts. We met in the hotel parking lot for the morning ritual of filling the coolers with plenty of water and ice. We also made sure the "third cooler" was adequately stocked.
We arrived at our pits about 8:30 and began setting up the canopy and unloading the necessary tools and equipment from the trailer. Mark Theisen did some last minute tuning and adjusting to the mighty Stude 6. Last year, Mark did all the driving. This year, the team decided to let as many team members drive as possible. Ed Bauer won the lottery to be first driver. His mission was simple - mash the gas pedal to the floor and go as fast as he could. The goal was to beat the record of 121 mph that Mark set last year. I think the real carrot dangling in front of them was to try to hit 150 mph. No one ever said that was their goal, but they kept saying they felt the car was capable of going 150.
While Mark tuned the car, everyone else tuned Ed. They got him suited up and ran through the shut-down procedures in case of an emergency. They also gave him a list of instructions of what gauges to watch during the run. I don't know if Ed was remembering all the instructions. I know that if it had been me sitting in the car, all I would remember would be, "Mash gas pedal and go straight."
A little before 10:00, they hooked up the tow bar and the Studie headed to the pre-staging line. They said it would take a couple hours before they would get to the line, so Steve Brown and I stayed behind and straightened up the pits. We checked out some more of the cars in other pits and drank some more water. We also spent quality time sitting in lawn chairs under the tarp waiting for long course cars to go by us. Around noon, Joe and Bob Waitz showed up to grab some tools and snacks. They said it would still be at least an hour before Ed would run, so we might as well stay in the pits where there was shade.
When I first envisioned Bonneville Speed Week, I thought it would be similar to Back to the Fifties, with lots of people and lots of vendors. Boy, was I mistaken. Most of the people there were the participants with just a hand full of spectators. Most of the spectators were lined up along the first mile of the long course. Because the course and pits are spread out over five or six miles, there isn't a central congregation of people or cars. There weren't any vendors to speak of either. If you needed a part, you had to go to a parts store in town. And there was only one food stand there. Joe tried to warn me that it was pretty slow-paced, but I didn't think it would be this slow-paced.
About 1:00, Steve and I decided to jump on the bikes and see how far the Studie had advanced in the pre-staging area. When we got to the pre-staging area, we found the Salt-2-Salt guys near the front of the line. Steve and I parked the bikes and joined the rest of the group as we waited our turn to advance in the line. Basically, it was just like being in the pits, except we didn't have lawn chairs or shade. Surprisingly, it wasn't too hot. The temps were only in the 80s and the dorky looking hats were doing their job. To pass the time, we walked up and down the staging line to look at cars that were in line. That was the neat part. You could walk right up to the cars and talk to the owners. Everybody was very friendly and willing to talk about their cars. These were probably the most down-to-earth people I have ever met. It didn't matter if their cars ran 100 mph or 300 mph. But then, I suppose talking to people like me probably took their mind off the fact that they were standing in the sun for hours with nothing to do.
Finally, we approached the starting line. It was now 2:15. We had been in line for over 4 hours. None of that mattered now. Ed was about to take his place in history. He finished suiting up in his fire suit and got strapped in the car. I wondered to myself if Ed was nervous as he sat in the car waiting for his turn at the line. I got my answer as Ed motioned me over to the car. I thought he must want to give me a message for Carol in case something went terribly wrong during his run. I asked him what he wanted and he replied, "Do you know what you call a double date in a pick-up truck? 4 on the floor!" I guess Ed wasn't too nervous. The car was pushed up to the starting line and Ed was ready to go. The starter came over to check the belts and give Ed some last minute instructions. Then, the driver's door closed and Ed revved up the old flathead 6. The starter gave Ed the thumbs up sign and Ed was off. As the Studie disappeared in a blur of salt, we piled into the tow vehicle and headed down the service road to pick up Ed.
When we rendezvoused with Ed, he had a grin from ear to ear. He said the car ran great, but he couldn't shift into 3rd gear. It turned out that Ed never ran through the shift pattern when he was all buckled in the car. The tether strap on his right arm was adjusted too short to allow him to be able to push the shift lever into 3rd. After a few attempts, he shifted from 2nd gear into 4th gear. In spite of that small problem, the Studie topped out with a speed of 123.334 mph. The car was hooked up to the tow bar and pulled right back into the pre-staging line. With a little tweaking to the timing and Ed's tether strap, who knows what speed the Studie was capable of reaching?
Since it would be a few more hours before Ed would get to run again, Steve and I headed back to the pits. We were watching the cars go by on the long course when we heard over the radio there was a crash on the long course at mile 5. Our pit was located about mile 4 of the long course. We saw the car go by us and it was really flying. We grabbed the binoculars and tried to see what was going on, but we couldn't see much. SCTA trucks were heading towards the crash site and pretty soon an ambulance went by. The course was shut down until they could clear the track. It was about 3:15 and Steve and I went back to the staging area to check up on the Salt-2-Salt guys.
Ed was eager to take another run, especially now that he could reach 3rd gear. The course opened up again after about an hour and a half. We later found out the guy involved in the crash had died. His name was John Beckett and was driving a streamliner based on a stretched Honda car. He rolled while traveling between 200 and 250 mph.
With the delay caused by the crash, Ed wouldn't get a chance to make another run on Sunday, so we left the car in place in the staging line and headed back to the pits to secure the trailer for the night. Of course, the first matter at hand was to crack open the "third cooler" and toast Ed's mostly successful run. We now had two official Bonneville race car drivers in our midst. After a little bench racing and picking up equipment, we headed back to the hotel for showers and supper.
At the hotel, we were trying to decide where to go for supper. The Hispanic clerk suggested a Mexican restaurant located in the truck stop just outside the speedway. He said it was authentic and very good. We took his advice and headed to the truck stop. He was right on both counts. With over half of the customers being Hispanic, it was authentic. And the food was delicious. The place was packed. Besides the great food, the thing that stood out about this place was the cash handling system they used. When you went to the counter to pay your bill, the clerk asked you what you had. Everything was even dollars. A burrito platter and a large beer was $7.00. A burrito platter and two large beers was $8.00. Instead of putting the money in a cash register, the clerk just turned around and threw the money on a pile on the back counter. There was a pile of bills about a foot high sitting on the back counter.
Back at the hotel, it was a tour of the parking lot and then back to the rooms. We wanted to be at the track and ready to run by 7:30 the next morning. The smell of excitement was in the air again, but this time it was joined by the smell of the effects of Mexican cuisine.
Will Ed ever find 3rd gear? Will the Studie ever hit 150 mph? Will our hotel rooms ever air out?
On Monday morning, we all got up and were anxious to get back to the Salt Flats to see Ed, aka "Short Shift," make another run in the Studie. But first, I was anxious to hit the continental breakfast at the hotel to smother the glowing embers of last night's burritos and beer sitting in my stomach with waffles and juice. Ah, it was just what the doctor ordered.
By now, we had the routine down pat - meet in the parking lot and load up the day's supply of sunscreen, snacks and water. Oh, yeah. We couldn't forget the "third cooler." Each day, the ride out to the salt was a little quieter. We were all still excited, but now it was a little like going to work. We all knew what our assigned tasks were when we hit the salt. My main task was still to stay out of the way of any important work. I figured my job was similar to that of an extra in a movie. I would walk around the car holding a wrench so it looked like we had a large support team ready to leap into action at a moment's notice in case a magazine photographer stopped by. I also took it upon myself to make sure the cookies and donuts in the snack box didn't get too old.
When we got to the salt, we split into two groups. One group stayed by the Stude in the staging line and helped Ed get ready for his run. The other group went to the pits to get it set up and load up any tools and equipment we would need for the Studie and returned to the staging area. I think we were all back at the Studie by about 7:30.
The line was moving pretty well and Ed rolled up to the starting line about 8:30. The mighty Studie 6 roared to life and Ed went through the safety check with the SCTA starter. Now that Ed could reach 3rd gear, there was no telling how fast he could go. Look out 150! As Ed guided the blue missile down the course, we jumped into the tow vehicles and chased him down. When we reached Ed at the end of the course, he was standing outside the car with the hood up. That wasn't a good sign. Ed was grinning, but Ed is always grinning. As we approached the car, we could see steam rolling out of the engine compartment and coolant dripping off the car. The top radiator hose had blown off. No big deal. We hooked up the tow bar and dragged the car back to the staging area for another run. On the way back, we stopped for Ed's time slip. Ed said he noticed the coolant between the 2nd and 3rd mile and the time slip supported that. The 2-1/4 mile speed was 130.661 and the 3 mile speed was 129.4. The bad news was that the Studie was dripping fluids, but the good news was that Ed had gone over 130 mph. Come to think of it, Ed was so excited he might also have been dripping fluids.
Since it took a couple hours to go through the staging area, we had plenty of time to clean the car up and get it ready to run again. We re-attached the radiator hose and filled the radiator. We cleaned all the coolant off the sides of the car and fired the engine up so Mark could do a little fine-tuning. That's when our enthusiasm bubble burst. There was engine coolant blowing out the header. At first, we tried to use that age-old male coping mechanism - denial. It was probably just some coolant that got sucked through the carb when the hose blew. It will clean itself out in no time. Well, it didn't clean itself out. We would have to drag the car back to the pits for some exploratory surgery.
Back at the pits, the Salt-2-Salt chief mechanics pulled the head and their worst fears were confirmed - the block was cracked. It cracked in the same area it did last year. After some group discussion, it was decided that they didn't drive for two days just to be spectators, so they cleaned up the block the best they could and reassembled the engine. Then they dumped in some trusty Alumaseal in an attempt to plug the cracks. The Alumaseal seemed to do the job, but the center two cylinders were still low on compression compared to the others. After some more soul-searching, it was decided that Speed Week for the Studie was over. By this time, it was almost 4:00, so we started packing up the pits and broke into the "third cooler." The weather forecast was for rain, so we did a very thorough job of securing the pit area. It was decided not to load the car until tomorrow morning to see what the weather would be like then.
Back at the hotel, we showered up and then convened in the lobby and ordered some pizza. Everyone was pretty tired and disappointed. Most of the night was spent bench racing and checking out the cars in the parking lot. I think we were all back in the rooms by 10:30 or 11:00. Steve Brown & I were flying home in the morning, so we packed up all of our stuff.
We all slept in the next morning. It had rained overnight and we didn't know what condition the salt would be in. We had a leisurely breakfast and then headed out to the Salt Flats. There was some standing water by the entrance to the speedway, so Steve & I decided to just head to the airport. We flew out of Salt Lake City, which was about 100 miles away, and had to return the rental car that Joe & Mark picked up when they flew in. We said our good-byes and hit the road.
What we didn't know was that when the Salt-2-Salt guys got to their pits, they decided to make one last bonzai run in the Studie to see if it would hold together. It was going to be a "go or blow" run. Joe was elected to be the designated driver. To add a little more excitement, another storm was coming over the mountains heading straight for the race course.
Joe got to the line and took off down the course. As he shifted into 4th gear, he heard a loud bang and then there was silence. It turns out the clutch grenaded and left pieces of the clutch and tranny housing all over the course. Luckily, the scatter shield did its job and kept the shrapnel on the outside of the car. Just as the SCTA crew got the track cleared of Studie guts, the storm hit. And it hit with a vengeance. Check out he photos on the Salt2Salt.com web site. The storm washed out the rest of Speed Week, so Joe has the honor of being the last person to make a run during the 2005 Bonneville Speed Week.
So, what were Steve & I doing during all this excitement? We were sitting in the Salt Lake City airport waiting for our plane that was delayed due to the storm. By the time we got back to St. Cloud, it was almost midnight.
You're probably wondering how I enjoyed my first trip to Bonneville. Well, when I first got home, I told myself that it was fun, but this one time would satisfy my curiosity for about 10 years. The slow pace drove me nuts, but it was an interesting experience and I am definitely glad I went. But as I've been writing this journal, I started remembering little things about the trip - Saturday night at the headquarters hotel with all the rat rods, the Mexican restaurant, the road trip to Utah, and all the great people I met. I think I'm ready to back again this year. If you've never been to Bonneville, I strongly recommend it. It's a great experience and I think you'll be glad you went. It was very awe-inspiring to stand by the timing tower on the hallowed ground, or salt, that is truly the birth place of speed. As I stood by the starting line and gazed down the course at the black lane markers that disappeared in the horizon, I couldn't help but envision all the hot rodding legends that have driven that course over the past 50 years, pushing their cars and themselves to the limit. And now, I can brag that I personally know three of those legends - Mark Theisen, Ed Bauer, and Joe Helm.
In conclusion, I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Salt-2-Salt racing team for allowing me to join them in their quest for speed. I hate to admit it, but I've even gained a new appreciation for Studebakers. However, I still think that most Studebaker owners are a little weird.
Steve Wendt Cub Reporter