I mentioned in my Speed Week blog that we were hoping to return to Bonneville later this year for the FIA Shootout. This gathering of the “fastest of the fast” is invitation only and we were asked to attend and attempt to break the FIA World Record for out class. It’s a tough ask because you only have 1 hour to turn the car around, but the team had worked on this during Speed Week and we were confident that we could solve the issues in the Flower (which almost certainly would appear to be due to a bad batch of chains) and take on this challenge.
But the Salt Lake has returned to a Lake early this year. With just 3 days to go to the Shootout, we have had to stand down the Speed Scotland Crew. Heavy rain means the Salt if flooded and even if the water should evaporate from the surface, the carefully prepared racetrack will almost certainly now be unusable. Mother Nature, that long time enemy of British LSR efforts has struck once again and there’s nothing we can do but shrug our shoulders and come back fighting in 2014.
It’s been that sort of year.
A tough couple of days for Speed Scotland and the EFG International-supported Flower on the Salt at Bonneville. With the temperatures hitting 107 degrees in the shade and around 150 in the reflected sunshine, the crew are frazzled after a long week.
Wednesday was spent building a new engine/gearbox combo after I returned from Salt Lake City with the required bits. The engine was finished around 3pm and mostly installed by the Salt curfew at 7.30pm.
So this morning, a final spanner check and we were off to the startline for a real final crack at this record for 2013. Hopes were high, but most important was to get a full pass for the first time this week.
For once the Flower went off the line perfectly and into 2nd gear she was accelerating hard but just short of the 2 mile I felt the turbo pressure suddenly go and we were running a pure 1 litre engine now. But I was utterly determined that we’d run the full 5 miles of the legendary Bonneville long course to thank the guys for all their hard work yesterday so I pushed on, 170mph at the 2 mile became 200mph at the 3 mile. But the exhaust failure meant the gases were filling the engine bay and then the cabin rather than exiting and I was really struggling in the cockpit.
I hung in there until the 5 mile, albeit without picking up any more pace and threw the laundry quickly and opened the lid. Since I was coughing pretty badly I steered the car sharply off the course and then cracked the steering so I could sit up in the car. I can assure readers, it’s a bit surreal to be doing 100+mph sitting upright about 1 inch off the ground...
The rescue crews were with me as soon as I stopped rolling and a quick check of my blood oxygen levels and I was good to go, although warned that having breathed that much alcohol vapour I was going to have a spectacular hangover! We soon found people willing to re-weld our exhaust system (thanks Speed Demon!) and they explained that they’d seen the same failures previously to ours. They’ve also broken 3 engines this week as well except theirs are $100k a pop I’d guess!
We attempted 2 more passes but chain issues and lack of spares at this stage of the week hampered us and to be honest, none of our hearts were in it, least of all mine.
We’d simply been beaten by The Great White Dyno as it’s known.
So the long trek home begins with basically nothing to show for the week. A total disaster, but every team out here has had a year like this. These records are records for a reason and none are easy to claim. The intense heat on the Salt this year has drained us all and spirits are low right now. We need to take a long hard look at our drive issues. Now we’ve sorted our engines /gearboxes/ rear swing arm and steering issues from previous years it just leaves the gearbox bearings that failed twice in 2 days having never failed previously and the front chain that are causing trouble so we’re closer than we were when we left for the Salt, but it still doesn’t feel very satisfying.
Once again all our thanks to EFG for their support in our endeavours, 2014 is the 100th anniversary of speed records at Bonneville... perhaps it’ll be our year?
Thanks for following us on here.
Your “methanol induced headache” correspondent,
Well after a final spanner check of the new motor installation, the 9th since we started chasing this record, we were in the line for the start around 9.30am. 1h30 later we were up and the Flower pulled away well. A couple of hesitations from the motor though meant, given this is the last motor we have with us, that I opted to switch off and coast to the side of the track to get it looked at. Pushing it onto the trailer though, we realised that we had lost drive as I’d slowed and on return to base it’s obvious that we’ve had an identical output shaft bearing failure to yesterday.
Tuesday morning and back at the start line with motor#9 installed
Flower at first light in the Long Course queue.
After spending 9.5 hours installing the new motor in viciously hot conditions, the team got to see it break before I’d made it out of sight.
It’s very tough to describe how low the whole Speed Scotland crew was at this point. It’s clear this new motor (#9) has taken some significant damage and is irreparable and we simply don’t have any more engines to fit. A cover is thrown over the Flower and tools are packed away. We’ve had a pair of inexplicable failures of tried and trusted components that ran so well in identical conditions last year that weren’t even under any significant load and without understanding what’s caused this fitting a new engine would be virtually pointless even if we had one.
Phone calls are made to airlines about the possibility of bringing flights home forwards. Silence reigns in the camp as in particular the younger lads who had worked so hard to get us back on track this morning take our failure badly. But let’s not lose sight that the guy who holds the record broke 15 engines before he did it. The Speed Demon who ran so quickly earlier in the week have had fires and blown motors or other problems on every run since. The Salt can be a tough mistress.
Broken bearing race from motor #8
Motor #9 is hung and drained to resurrect motor #8
A decision is made to strip the motor we broke yesterday (#8) and see if we can at least understand what’s happening. If only to stop everyone sitting about being miserable! But it quickly becomes clear that the damage to the motor is not extensive and if we replace the main bearing the rest of the engine is basically serviceable if rough. Phone calls are made and a bearing is found in California which can be delivered to a Kawasaki dealers around 140 miles away for first thing tomorrow hopefully... motor #9 is ripped out of the Flower to see if it has any good parts it can donate and a plan is put in place for me to be at the doors of the dealership when it opens tomorrow and bring the parts back to the Salt as quickly as possible. Team Chief Derek Palmer will then rebuild the motor and Andy and Robbie will then fit it. All ideally before the Salt curfew at 8pm, so we can aim to be back and running for first thing on Thursday.
This team simply doesn’t know when to quit. It’s a long shot, but the EFG International supported Flower of Scotland might still be able to show her pace at Speedweek 2013.
Your “gutted but optimistic, down but not beaten” correspondent.
The day started well as we arrived on the Salt to be greeted by a spectacular shooting star! Surely this was a good omen for the day ahead?
The Speed Scotland crew did their final preparation by the lights of the push truck and we were down to the start of the legendary Bonneville Long course for sunrise.
After just 2 qualifiers from the previous day we launched and the Flower ripped away from the line. Suddenly the cockpit was full of acrid smoke and then no drive. The "unbreakable" gearbox that had survived so much last year had seized and destroyed the motor.
We knew we'd have to switch our fresh motor/gearbox combo at sone point in the week but we were hoping we'd manage a few more shakedown passes first.
So the crew knuckled down and managed to change engines (known as #9 and first with a black rather than unlucky green cam cover) in just over 9 hours which was a fabulous effort in the 100 degree heat and just 5% humidity which dehydrates you so badly out here.
So after an extensive final check we'll be good to go again on Tuesday morning.
Morale is still pretty good in the crew, we have 3 full days left to make our attack on the record but pressure is building on me as the driver to pull out a full pass somewhere around 300 mph.
Your "suddenly superstitious" correspondent
Robbie Gilmore changed motors
It’s upon us and Speedweek 2013 started in style with the Speed Demon making a 430mph pass as second car on the long course on the first morning of the meeting!
The entire Speed Scotland crew AND The Flower (Intact) managed to be on the Salt by late Thursday which must be some sort of record after our previous adventures with missed connections/ delays at the Panama Canal and parts that hadn’t arrived so we cleared technical inspection lunchtime Friday and set to work to ensure all the damage done by the long voyage had been corrected ready to run Saturday. This is mostly an issue of corrosion: despite our best efforts to soak the car in oil wrap it tightly, it still suffers from Salt in all the wiring/cabling and joints during its long voyage from Scotland to Long Beach in California. In particular the parachute systems must all be checked and lubricated as they suffer and much of the wiring and terminal blocks must be cleaned up or replaced.
During this process our Chief Mechanic, Robbie Gilmour, suffered what looked like a horrific injury as he was seen staggering away from the engine crane with claret pouring down his face from his skull. It wasn’t until we realised that he wasn’t howling in pain and that actually he’d been hosed down in gear oil by the engine crane rather than cracked his skull open that the blind panic ended and the rolling about laughing started. Apart from a slightly “minerally” residual smell Robbie was unharmed.
Come Saturday morning and that incredible pass by Speed Demon we finalised our work for 11am after tracking down a couple of air leaks, caused, you guessed it, by corrosion. But sadly the wind had already got up, and as it’s simply not safe to run our car in anything bigger than a 10mph crosswind we had to sit tight. Eventually the Long Course was shut down entirely as it became clear that the wind was gusting too strong for anything to run so after a frustrating afternoon we called it a night and headed back to camp leaving the Flower ready to shakedown at dawn.
Sunday morning and we were on the Salt by 6am, literally first light, and having overcome some final programming issues with the new boost management system (regular readers will recall last year’s boost gauge met a sad death in a fire) we were down ready to run by 9am.
This is the point where all the hopes of the crew at their highest, we look and hope for a clean first pass. Climbing back into the car for the first time in 51 weeks comes as a shock as it always seems to have shrunk even if I swear to the team that I’ve not gained any weight in the past 12 months! It really is tough to remember what a horrific environment it is in the car with the cramped confines, heat and lack of visibility. Up at the line and there is a small hold to clear the course after a previous spinning car and we are warned that there are some nasty bumps in the first half mile of track. The Flower came off the front off the push truck beautifully though and immediately hit a hole and lost all power. An emergency cut-out had turned off having not quite locked out with some (you guessed it) corrosion, but its swiftly rectified and we’re back in the line. Sadly now this has grown to a 2 hour wait to run and the Sun is at its peak as we head out to run. With 144 degrees on the temperature gauge in the direct sunlight it’s a good 20 degrees hotter still in the car but this time we pull away well and run right out to the redline in 1st gear to test our new boost system. As expected there are some small issues and the wastegate kicks in a little early and so I park the car for the crew to give a full spanner check ahead of a serious pass later today. However, once again the wind gets up and it’s clear we’d be unlikely to be allowed to run even if we joined the line so we pack up for the night, aiming to be back at dawn to run fast when it’s still and the air is cold. Given the heat soaked into the crew, driver and car by 3pm this is a sensible call by team Chief Derek Palmer as we’ll all be better equipped to take on the Great White Dyno early tomorrow.
Sunday afternoon and wind stops play at Bonneville
So although we didn’t cover large distances today, it was pretty satisfying. The new steering and boost systems seem to have massively improved the car at this stage, even if we expect more learning with the latter as the week goes on. And I am also feeling much more comfortable in the car which bodes well for the speeds ahead.
Thanks as ever to EFG for their support without which we simply wouldn’t be back on the Salt.
We ride at dawn!
Your “slighty frazzled correspondent”
It’s that time of year where we dig out the floppy hats, sunscreen, lip balm and go-fast underwear and get on the big metal bird to Bonneville!
Yes, once again, the EFG International supported Flower of Scotland will be attempting to become the fastest ever car with a sub-1 litre engine at the world-famous Bonneville Speedweek starting this coming Saturday and the team is gathering on the West Coast of America ready for the long trek out to the Salt Lake. The Flower of Scotland streamliner arrived at the Port of Long Beach last week, but due to the vagaries of the US customs will only be released into our care late today (Monday). The Speed Scotland crew fly in tomorrow afternoon (Tuesday) and will immediately get to work checking her over and installing some late arriving parts: in particular a replacement boost controller for the one that give its life in the fire last year. And then they’ll start the long drive out to Utah which will take some 14 hours.
Regular readers will have watched the BBC documentary of our efforts on the Salt last year (if not, it’s on You Tube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgTkZ2INTU0) and know that an engine failure then a fire meant the Flower never really got to show what she was capable of in 2012, but we’re back with fresh engines and great gearboxes and hoping that South California Timing Association record is going to tumble this year. Although this will require 2 passes down the Salt at over 313 miles per hour and the Flower is already pretty interesting to drive above 220-230mph. Also the BBC failed to convey in their film quite what an unpleasant environment a true Streamliner is to drive: The first thing you have to contend with is the incredible heat once the lid is shut: it hits well over 50 degrees inside my 7 layer nomex fire suit. For aerodynamic reasons the frontal area needs to be as small as possible so I am in very cramped confines: my chin is wedged onto my chest making it a fight to breath and I am unable to move my head in any direction as it is jammed firmly into the roll cage. Add in so much adrenalin that 2 passes is pretty much the physical limit for a day as the body is totally drained, methanol fumes that enter the cockpit within the first 60 seconds of the run to make your eyes stream and vibration so bad from the disc wheels on the front that I struggle to see anything above about 180mph (known as a “grey out”) and you can gather it’s an evil environment which fortunately I only need to be in for a few minutes each run.
You wonder reading that why we’re all so excited to be back at Bonneville? Well apart from it being the coolest place on earth to be a car guy, we’ve made some changes this year, so we’re a little more relaxed. So instead of running the Flower of just the 7 days of Speedweek, we’ll be aiming to leave her in California and return for the FIA Shootout meeting later in the year meaning it’s not just the “1 shot over 1 week per annum” which puts so much pressure on the crew each year.
This means hopefully we’ll get to join the fastest of the fast: just 10 cars and 10 bikes are invited to “the Shootout” where we get to run in 2 directions but with just a 1 hour turn-around time for the FIA World Records. In our class this is around the 240mph mark which shows how much tougher the short turn-around is compared to the 313mph of the “SCTA” where you have 3 hours of preparation. That said, the Flower should be more than capable of breaking that given reliability, good Salt and a bit of luck. So hopefully a 2 part blog from me on here this year, but I’ll kick off with all the stories from Tech inspection later in the week and hope you’ll join me on here for the regular updates.
In the meantime, here’s the rear-facing camera of a short (2 mile) pass last year that gives you a rear view of what it looks like to accelerate from 0 to 200mph on the Salt (watch the huge push truck disappear down to a dot): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDd-VCwc8zI
Your “squeezing his brave pills into his suitcase as we speak” correspondent,
After what has been a hugely tough week on the Salt at Bonneville for many of the crews, not least the Speed Scotland one the final full day dawned calm and bright.
The EFG Flower of Scotland was ready to run early and we made a great start on the improved Salt surface and were quickly up to 200mph. However the Flower was only on 3 cylinders as a spark plug had failed by splitting in half something very rarely seen by our engine guy in over 30yrs.
The crew checked the car over, changed the plugs and by lunchtime we were ready to go again.
Shirt change to try and change luck
Parachutes packed to run again
Another perfect start off the push truck, I’ve certainly had a bit of practice this week and this time she pulled hard to 240mph when suddenly the traditional cacophony from behind my head, and the rev’s flared as the car lost drive. A gearbox failure now would mean we would be over and done and for the 3rd time this week I have to record the “it’s all over” interview with the BBC. But in fact the intermediate sprocket set has broken free and it’s a quick fix.
So come 5pm and I’m climbing back into the fire suit for one last shot at this record. It truly is now or never.
Damage from push truck assault
Broken spark plug
First gear pulling hard, second gear... 150mph and the car steering began to feel a bit odd... BUT I wasn't stopping for anything or anyone on this pass.
Into third and I ripped all the studs out of the rear axle. No drive. The roughness of the Salt that has broken so many team this year had struck again.
So I coasted to a halt and returned to pit.
Where we discovered that in addition to the damage to the rear end, the roughness of the track had damaged the steering a little and while our systems had ensured it wasn’t an issue on track, for safety reason there is no quick fix.
So it didn't happen in 2012.
The team are extremely disappointed because with the support of EFG we’d finally solved our gearbox issues that had plagued us in previous years. But the one error from the external engine builder that caused the failure on Sunday afternoon has put us on the back foot for the rest of the week: losing Monday to the engine change, the fire on Tuesday due to a split union that would probably have been fine if not changed etc. which then left us with damaged electronics for the rest of the week.
But myself and the car are in 1 piece after being smoked, on fire, on 2 wheels and directionless so there is plenty to be thankful for.
Tough week. But the Salt has been rough and many teams have suffered. Sometime Bonneville is like that.
All our thanks to EFG International, without whom we wouldn’t have been on the Salt this year.
Your battered/bruised/smoked/roasted/shaken and a bit stirred correspondent.
Wednesday and Speed Scotland’s adventures at Bonneville go on!
The team were on the Salt early and the EFG Flower of Scotland was prepared for an early pass.
We got off the line well but the engine was struggling for boost and felt a little sluggish. We were still well over 220mph by the 3 mile mark but it was obvious that there was an issue when suddenly the chain failed (no boost = no cooling water) which sounded bad as it welded itself in a lump and smashed its way around the engine bay.
Convinced that a chain failure is usually due to gearbox issues I was devastated. We’re too late in the week for the team to be changing the engine again so a major failure now and it’s all over. An emulsion of water/oil and salt dripping out the back of the Flower looked bad, but in fact the chain had made just a small hole in the oil filler which was easily fixed. The chain was replaced and the cooling water system for the chain checked. Our very melted boost controller was also checked and another burnt wire found: legacy of our fire yesterday so that was back to full health and astonishingly the little car once again had bounced back from a potentially week ending experience.
So we were back on the Long course for a run last thing this evening. Unfortunately during the day, the course had cut up quite a bit and was rutted with large amounts of loose Salt. So as soon as I tried to launch from the push truck the rear wheels span and the back end stepped out throwing the Flower broadside across the track. I had to get out of the power to save the drift and was then hit by the push truck!!! This stuck me up on 2 wheels but I managed to save it from toppling over with luck and quick reactions. In traditional Scottish fashion, Malcolm, our push truck driver was heard to yell “He reversed into me!” as I gathered it up and headed off down the course.
By now of course the start was too poor and the surface too loose to make a really good pass but the Flower pulled well through the full 5 miles of the course, exiting at 244mph, so officially our second fastest pass (although we’ve been quicker and not made end of track) and our first full pass of the week. Things are looking up!!!
The car is 100% good for tomorrow. It seems our engine and gearbox solutions are holding for now (touch wood). SO TURN UP THE B-HOOOOST and lets go fast.
Your Streamliner Drifting Correspondent
Speed Scotland were on the Salt early on Tuesday with high hopes following the all-day install of the new motor yesterday.
Final prep complete, we towed down to the start line for 11am, but it was to be 2pm before we arrived at the front of the queue... a long wait in the heat of a Bonneville Summer.
BBC interview Malcolm wind damage above
Boost controller and melted dials all still work
On arrival, I strapped in as normal and we got the go signal from the starter, but suddenly the EFG Flower of Scotland refused to fire up. We missed our slot and are pushed back a couple of cars while the crew check the engine bay over and find nothing, but the car decides to start behaving and fires up.
So back on the start line and back in the heat and cramped confines of the cockpit once again... this time we fire up, the perfect push start off the truck and we’re away: 1st gear and she’s pulling well, but there’s a stronger smell of methanol in the cockpit than usual. No matter, I’ve got plenty of other things to focus on as the speed builds and airflow into the drivers compartment blows away the fumes. 2nd gear and we’re flying... 191mph by the 2 mile mark and pulling ok... I’m being gentle with the car and the brand new engine but we’re up thru 3rd gear and the 3rd mile at a 221mph average... suddenly though a cough from the engine and I immediately grab 4th in case we’re spinning the wheels but the car won’t accelerate anymore. Have I shifted too soon? Dropped out of the power band?
This used to be an infra red camera to warn of fire
Chris repairs paint damage from fire
No. A fuel pipe coupling has failed in the engine bay and neat Methanol is being sprayed onto the exhaust manifolds. The Flower is burning at 245mph. The engine cuts and unaware of the fire but aware we have smoke and a major issue, I throw the ‘chute and lift the canopy for fresh air, checking the infra-red screen to see if there are flames in the engine bay. The screen is dark, so reassured I pull off the course and bail out.
As I stop though, I am surrounded by emergency vehicles, and fire extinguishers are being emptied at the car. The paint is blistering and there is clearly fire burning under the engine cover but the fast response time of the Emergency teams mean it’s quickly under control.
On returning to the pit, it is clear the first thing destroyed by the fire was the infra-red camera! The entire wiring of the car is crispy and the boost controller/engine management box has melted.
It is all over for 2012.
Except I am lucky enough to have a team of Scots that never gives in and on finding the engine and gearbox to be intact, they try and start the motor. The mortally wounded control box astonishingly lights up and the engine fires! So all the toasted wiring is ripped out and replaced and by sun down on the Salt the car is basically ready to race once again tomorrow morning. It seems extremely unlikely to me that the fire didn’t cause further damage or that our boost controller can work for long in its melted state but the crew are completely happy that she should be good to go!
Sunset on a tough day
So perhaps today the Salt Gods were smiling on us in their own way... surely now we’ve paid our dues and a decent run is in the offing?? Optimism is lacking, but perseverance does sometimes prevail.
We’ll find out at dawn.
No running today after last night’s engine failure, but the Speed Scotland crew worked flat out all day to ensure that we should be ready to go after 1 hr of final prep tomorrow morning...
The crew would have had it done in time to run tonight, but the weather changed (as it has done a few times this week) and the wind got pretty serious on us. The decision had to be made to leave the Salt before we were blown away!
New engine has been stripped to check it doesn’t have the same issues as the first one and then installed; meanwhile, that first engine has a hole in the block where the conrod made it's break for freedom.
Could be a fast day tomorrow... it seems like we deserve a bit of luck at last and the car has felt so fast and good so far that 300mph feels very close. If I can hold the EFG International Flower of Scotland together for a full pass, then I’m hoping for big numbers.
Assuming the Racing Gods allow....
Meanwhile, I had a wander down to see the “Target 550” crew. Rumoured to have spent over $10million already on this twin engine car, this monster is aiming to become the fastest wheel driven car ever at over 500mph. All I can say is that it makes the Flower look like a tadpole!
Your baked and frazzled correspondent (who thinks the BBC have stolen his sunglasses to stop him wearing them on camera!)
The Speed Scotland crew put the EFG International Flower of Scotland to bed on Saturday night ready to run first thing Sunday morning and so we were on the Salt for a spectacular dawn.
Dawn on the Salt
A quick check of the car threw up a slight issue with the clutch, but there was an early morning wind from the canyon alongside the Speedway that would have stopped us running anyway initially, but we were on the line in perfect conditions ready to go before 9am. A short wait and the Flower was away and running for the first time in Speedweek in 2012!
Hot on the Salt
Waiting to run in the sun
A great launch, up through the first couple of gears and running well but some smoke in the cockpit suddenly got very serious and while I was quite relaxed at 200mph with limited visibility, once we got to the point with limited oxygen then I thought it was time to throw the chute... in fact I was forced to open the canopy as quickly as possible and to do this, I had to undo the belts so ended up doing around 150mph one handed unbelted!
A quick check over and it's nothing serious, just a seal that's failed and a couple of hours later, it's all fixed and we're ready to go again.
Final preparation for first pass
Oil leak fixed
On arrival at the Start, the whole World seems to have had the same idea... and we join a lengthy queue to run. A long wait then turns into a very long wait as the weather turns and rain blows across the course, and lightning strikes one of the timing beams so the course is shut-down. Eventually, having joined the line around 2.30, it's 6pm when we make it to the start line of the legendary long course. A worse launch but she's soon up on the cam and fires through the first 2 gears and is heading towards the 2 mile marker at great pace in 3rd gear when the familiar ?300 monkeys with hammers? break loose behind my head. Another major failure and its dip the clutch and coast off the course.
After the Flower had run so well on the first run, this is total heartbreak for the Speed Scotland crew, but on return to the pits it becomes obvious we've had a conrod failure in piston 1. Nothing we've ever experienced before and not our traditional transmission problem. One of those things sadly when you try and stretch limits on the Great White Dyno. It is of limited consolation that the fastest car of the meeting, the 'Speed Demon', also broke a conrod on his engine (although his conrod actually felt the need to see the big wide World and punched a hole thru the bottom of the block.
We’ve got another motor and the crew will start changing it first thing tomorrow hopefully for us to run again by last thing.
It’ll be a long hard hot day for all, and we’re a bit broken right now but we’ll fight on
Your "heat soaked and miserable" correspondent.
Heavy rain storms overnight meant that Bonneville Speedweek started without the famous "long course" which was still soggy.
For the EFG Flower of Scotland crew we had to await the arrival of our fire bottles which had been revitalised (once the boat had arrived finally in Long Beach). Once installed final checks and cleaning of all the electrics took up a few hours by which time the wind was gusting and reports suggesting the #2 course was very rough were coming in to us.
The guy who holds our record, Rick Yaccoucci, is running here on another record and after a 305mph run conceeded that the visibility was too poor due to the vibrations from the surface.
We made sure that the Flower was 100% ready for a dawn pass tomorrow when the #1 course is opened for business.
Not a wasted day, but a waiting day.
Tomorrow if the wind has dropped we'll get to attack the Salt.
Your ready to rock and roll correspondent!
Friday at Bonneville is traditionally given over to tech inspection and setting up the pits. This time last year however the Flower had no engine in her and no crew to tend to her after flight cancellations and delays meant we were effectively a day behind before we could run. 2012 is definitely treating us better so far, despite a minor panic when the Fire Bottle manufacturers hadn't realised that they had received our bottles, let alone filled them and sent them back it looks as if the Flower will be good to make the first pass soon after the courses open at 10am tomorrow.
Road to Bonneville
Dawn over Wendover
Dawn over the casino town of West Wendover was spectacular, although not quite as impressive as the thunderstorms that had blown through the area all night and were to revisit the Salt by mid afternoon. In the hours in between the Speed Scotland crew managed to get the EFG Flower of Scotland through Tech Inspection early on and spent the rest of the day checking the car over ahead of a planned 300 mile per hour run tomorrow.
West Wendover is only a few miles from the Bonneville Speedway turning, although by the time we drive out on the Flats to our pits, we're some 20 miles from the overnight camp ground, and actually in a different time zone! Yes, the line between Mountain Time and Pacific Time runs between the two and with the town operating on the latter while the Salt operates on the former, it can get a bit confusing...
Indy Roadster Salt Racer
EFG Bank Flower
Plan for tomorrow is to shake down the Flower over the first couple of miles, see how she feels and if all is good push her out there hard and fast to see what she'll do. I am licensed to run unlimited speeds now at Bonneville, one of only 2 Brits, (the other being Andy Green!) so no need to try and hit a targeted speed. If the going is good, then the good will be going fast! The track was hard and grippy until the rain came in, although there are a few holes in the surface which while not a problem for stability etc will put extra loads on the transmission which is already an issue with all bike-engined cars. I'll have to pick my line well if I'm to avoid further failures this year, but we're confident the updates we've made since 2011 will see us being able to hold together long enough to break the magic 300mph barrier and perhaps finally the 313mph existing record... Think fast thoughts for us!
Engine and crash helmet
Your ready to go quick correspondent