Oh my word what a week
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,