Bonneville Speed Week, from the starting line

Bonneville Speed Week has been an annual event, weather permitting, since 1948. Hundreds of racers and spectators from across the U.S. and around the world congregate on the Bonneville Salt Flats for some of the fastest racing in the world. While there’s lots of information to be gleaned from the pits, it’s the starting line of the “long course” that always draws us in. It’s where drivers and riders get ready to make their runs, where engines come to life, and where crew and fans listen intently to the radio as announcers relay the results from the timing equipment.

Great salt conditions allowed Speed Week’s sanctioning body, the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), to prep four courses for 2018’s Speed Week, so racers were a bit spread out. Course #1, with five miles of prepped salt to run wide open and nearly five more to safely stop, was for the cars running 175 mph or faster. Here are some of our favorite photos of cars and drivers as they reached the starting line and headed down track.

It’s first-come, first-served at the starting line on the first day of competition. Every day after that, racers who qualified for a record get to line up in order to back up their runs and solidify their records. That means that from Sunday on, there’s a parade of cars that leave impound on their trailers.
Bonneville Speed Week Trailer

Bonneville salt flat Start
SCTA official Jim Jensen listens to his radio to make sure the course is clear and ready before signaling a driver to put his helmet visor down and then waving him to start.

Team Vesco’s Turbinator II streamliner had the fastest time of Speed Week as of Friday morning, but the Speed Demon team won’t give up.
Brandan Gillogly
Team Vesco’s Turbinator II streamliner had the fastest time of Speed Week as of Friday morning, but the Speed Demon team won’t give up.
Danny Thompson increased his previous record, set in 2016, to claim the Speed Week mark for AA Fuel Streamliners at 448.757 mph, the fastest for a piston-powered car at Speed Week.
Brandan Gillogly
Danny Thompson increased his previous record, set in 2016, to claim the Speed Week mark for AA Fuel Streamliners at 448.757 mph, the fastest for a piston-powered car at Speed Week.
Speed Demon’s crew adds about 100 pounds of ice to the car’s intercooler. It will all be melted and warm when the car roars across the finish in five miles.
Brandan Gillogly
Speed Demon’s crew adds about 100 pounds of ice to the car’s intercooler. It will all be melted and warm when the car roars across the finish in five miles.
Nobody in Speed Week history has driven more miles in excess of 400 mph than George Poteet, seven-time winner of the HOT ROD trophy for fastest flying mile of Speed Week.
Brandan Gillogly
Nobody in Speed Week history has driven more miles in excess of 400 mph than George Poteet, seven-time winner of the HOT ROD trophy for fastest flying mile of Speed Week.
Ed Umland’s twin-turbo, Chevrolet-LS-powered streamliner and cabover Suburban/Kenworth push truck make for quite a combo.
Brandan Gillogly
Ed Umland’s twin-turbo, Chevrolet-LS-powered streamliner and cabover Suburban/Kenworth push truck make for quite a combo.
The Carbinite streamliner was one of four fuel streamliners to run in excess of 400 mph at Speed Week 2018, a first for the event as far as we can tell.
Brandan Gillogly
The Carbinite streamliner was one of four fuel streamliners to run in excess of 400 mph at Speed Week 2018, a first for the event as far as we can tell.
The Big Red Camaro has competed in standing mile events, at Pike’s Peak, and how it has the AA Classic Blown Fuel Altered record at nearly 250 mph.
Brandan Gillogly
The Big Red Camaro has competed in standing mile events, at Pike’s Peak, and how it has the AA Classic Blown Fuel Altered record at nearly 250 mph.