Team Vesco’s Turbinator II runs 463 mph, breaks Speed Week record

Turbinator II pre race

In what is shaping up to be an absolutely amazing week of racing on the salt, Team Vesco’s turbine-powered Turbinator II streamliner has just recorded the fastest flying mile speed in the 70-year history of Speed Week. After working through issues with the new car in 2016 and promising passes in 2017, Turbinator II has once again brought 400-mph timeslips back to the Team Vesco pits. How does 463 mph sound?

Things got off to a great start as soon as racing commenced on Friday, with many drivers putting the favorable salt conditions to good use. Danny Thompson set the bar high with a 446-mph run on Saturday in his nitromethane-burning, twin-engine, all-wheel-drive Challenger II streamliner. Then he followed it up with a 450.909-mph run on Sunday before retiring the Challenger II for the week.

The Turbinator II streamliner pulls away from the starting line without the aid of a push truck.
The Turbinator II streamliner pulls away from the starting line without the aid of a push truck.
Brandan Gillogly

The two-run-average of 448.757 mph gave him the fastest piston-powered record in Speed Week history and the 450-mph run put Thompson in the lead for the coveted HOT ROD trophy given to the driver with the fastest flying mile of the week. Thompson’s lead didn’t last for long, as the Speed Demon team responded with a 452.255-mph run on Monday morning using a 388-cubic-inch, twin-turbocharged small-block Chevy.

Later that afternoon, driver Dave Spangler rolled away from the line while the 4300-hp Lycoming T55 turbine in Team Vesco’s Turbinator II whistled up in pitch as all four wheels propelled the car forward. Spangler clocked in with a 463.038-mph time in the fifth and final mile of the course, accelerating the entire way.

Although the runs thus far have already been historic, the battle for the fastest time at Speed Week isn’t over. Team Vesco has surely learned from its impressive run and the Speed Demon team’s 452-mph run came with one more gear left in the Liberty transmission, meaning that a gear change could be made before the car returns for another run on Tuesday morning. If you’re not already at Bonneville, we suggest booking the next flight in to Salt Lake City to catch the remainder of the racing, because the salt hasn’t been this good in years!

463mph timeslip
The time slip in the Team Vesco pits. The 470-mph exit speed shows that the Turbinator II had more than enough power and was still accelerating through the end of the five-mile course.
Brandan Gillogly