Summer 2013

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Flat Out Guts, glory and goodwill on Utah's salty speedway by Paul Sinkewicz S Bonneville Salt Flats (top) As racers wait their turn at the starting line, officials do a final check. It's the last chance to abort before risking an attempt to reach speeds of more than 200 m.p.h. (middle) Monique Sache steps out onto the hard-packed salt at Bonneville for the first — but not last — time. (bottom) One of the charming parts of the racing culture on the salt flats is the open-door policy on pit row, where racers and crews welcome questions as they get ready for their runs. Paul Sinkewicz, (Bonneville Salt Flats) Flamin' Mo Photography p33-35_Utah.indd 33 tepping out onto the Bonneville Salt Flats is what it must be like to stand on another, lonelier planet: beautiful, but strange, stark, barren – otherworldly. To the west, the serrated Silver Island Mountains gnash the sky, to the east, a plain of white salt stretches to the horizon; neither offering refuge from the enormity of the sky or sun. Even getting to this National Heritage Site is a journey through the wastelands of western Utah. No animals dart across the blacktop. No birds gather around the salt ponds flanking the Interstate 80, the sole route in. A bizarre concrete statue flashes by on the right like an abstract signpost to the Twilight Zone. Yet this trek through unreality is a hallowed, annual pilgrimage for hundreds of racing teams from around the world and their thousands of saltaddicted fans, all devotees of "timed racing" and the fearless lust for maximum velocity needed to push the envelope in a run across a dry lake bed. It's true, too, that there's no checkered flag. Glory here is earned in single combat between driver and stopwatch. When parachutes pop open after a five-mile blur, success or failure is measured in hundredths of a second. Almost as long as the internal combustion engine has been around, Utah's Bonneville Speedway has exerted its irresistible gravitational pull on those adventurous of spirit and enthralled with acceleration – with hundreds of enthusiasts arriving each summer to test the limits of their machines in four major racing events in front of thousands of fans and supporters. To eke out a fraction more power from their engines, they tinker with the gear ratios of the power train or scheme to refine the aerodynamics of their designs. Whether it's a car, truck or motorcycle, all are basically missiles on wheels, and the Bluebird, Mormon Meteor and Spirit of America are just a Westworld >> S U mm e r 2 0 1 3 33 13-04-18 1:39 PM

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