Back-to-back storms drown Speed Week 2022

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Brandan Gillogly

Hundreds of racers and crew were hopeful that the Bonneville Salt Flats would offer a solid racing surface again in 2022. The Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) and Bonneville Nationals Incorporated (BNI) had worked hard for weeks to deliver flat, smooth courses that would deliver the traction required for record speeds. Racing was set to begin on the morning of Saturday, August 6, and up until the night before, the salt conditions were promising, even after a light rain on Friday evening.

Unfortunately for racers and spectators, a storm dumped rain on the salt flats for hours early Saturday morning, causing the SCTA to postpone racing.

This look from the return road west of the Speed Week long course looking east on Thursday afternoon shows a storm that barely bypassed the track. Brandan Gillogly

Spectators weren’t allowed to enter the salt on Saturday to avoid damaging the access road. SCTA officials made an announcement on social media Saturday morning, “Don’t let the end of the road discourage you, the tracks and pits are at higher ground.” While there were several inches of water at the roads’ end, the pits and course were much better off. We saw similar conditions in 2019, when the pits had standing puddles of water and racing was able to carry on later in the week. It wasn’t meant to be this time, however, as a vigorous rain storm hit the salt again on Saturday evening, with lightning and thunder adding a dramatic flourish to the disappointment.

Brandan Gillogly

We visited the end of the road on Sunday morning. Even before the SCTA’s official announcement, veterans knew there would be no racing. Once again, the SCTA was holding racers at the end of the road, this time escorting them out in small groups to pack up, gather their trailers, and head home. The official announcement came soon after.

We spoke to several teams that were eager to race and disappointed by the turn in the weather. The last time Speed Week was rained out was in 2015, which was the second year in a row that late summer rain had inundated the track. For many racers, this is their one shot each year to run on the salt, and it’s a devastating blow. Others may rally and return for World Finals in late September if the salt is able to recover.

Brandan Gillogly

The Jesel team was hoping to set more records in its highly successful ram pickup, while the Speed Demon team was ready to challenge Team Vesco’s more powerful Turbinator II once again for the Hot Rod Trophy.

 

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