Grand National Roadster Show to celebrate 100yrs of racing

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Grand National Roadster Show to celebrate 100yrs of racing

Postby jskandhari » Sun Nov 17, 2013 8:17 am

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by Daniel Strohl, Hemmings Blog

Even for those accustomed to the wide open spaces of the American West, the Bonneville Salt Flats boggles the mind. Perfectly flat and white and uninterrupted by any living thing for miles upon miles, it resembles nothing less than the surface of the moon. Yet it also makes for a near-ideal racing venue and has attracted high-speed addicts from around the world for a century. To celebrate that milestone, the organizers of next year’s Grand National Roadster Show will pull together some of the most famous cars and streamliners to turn a wheel on the Bonneville salt.

Bonneville is located just east of Wendover, Utah, on the western edge of the Great Salt Lake Basin in Utah, the flats remained largely inaccessible due to their isolation and inhospitable nature. The ill-fated Donner party (in)famously traversed it in the 1840s, but it wasn’t until the Western Pacific Railroad laid tracks directly west from Salt Lake City across the desert and the salt flats in 1907 did people begin to consider driving across the flats.

One of the first to do so was Ab Jenkins on a motorcycle, followed by Bill Rishel and two Salt Lake City businessmen in a Pierce-Arrow later that year. According to Gordon Eliot White’s Ab & Marvin Jenkins: The Studebaker Connection and the Mormon Meteors, Jenkins drove across the flats as a mere shortcut, but Rishel envisioned first a highway across the flats and later auto racing on it. It took seven years for Rishel to see the latter come to fruition.

In 1914, as promoter Ernie Moross and his band of barnstormers traveled through Salt Lake City, Rishel convinced them to make a side trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats to make an attempt on the world land-speed record, which Bob Burman had set in the Blitzen Benz in 1910 at 141.370 MPH*. Moross agreed, Rishel arranged rail transport for Moross’s cars and 150 people who paid to see the event, and on August 11, 1914, Teddy Tetzlaff drove Moross’s Blitzen Benz to a claimed speed of about 141.8 MPH, which would have been enough to capture the record had officials from the AAA – which at the time oversaw land-speed record attempts in the United States – been present.

Regardless of the outcome, that highly publicized event – along with Ab Jenkins’s incessant promotion of the Bonneville Salt Flats as a racing venue – led to more use of the flats for racing in the 1930s and 1940s not only by Jenkins but also by George Eyston and John Cobb and later Malcolm Campbell. More world land-speed record attempts would take place there in the 1960s, including those by Mickey Thompson, Craig Breedlove, and the Arfons brothers.

Out of the hundreds of cars, motorcycles, and streamliners in an almost infinite array of combinations that have sped across the salt flats over the last 100 years, the organizers of the Grand National Roadster Show have invited between 80 and 100 to go on display, including the Kenz and Leslie 777 streamliner, considered the first hot rod to top 200 MPH; the Kugel and LeFevers Pontiac Firebird, the first stock-bodied car to top 300 MPH; the Mormon Meteor III; the Eddie Miller lakester; Danny Thompson’s Challenger 2.5; Mickey Thompson’s Challenger I; Athol Graham’s City of Salt Lake streamliner; Burt Munro’s World’s Fastest Indian; and the Poteet and Main Speed Demon, which captured the world record for piston-engine wheel-driven cars last year.

The 2014 Grand National Roadster Show will take place January 24-26 at the Fairplex in Pomona, California. For more information, visit RodShows.com.
Courtsey: Wildaboutcarsonline.com
J-asneet S-ingh K-andhari
Ride Safe - Follow Rules - Relish Driving - Have Fun but not at the Cost of Others
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