Bonneville Racer

DIY Fabrication
Dan & Kris Racing
Bonneville Racers

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times.

The 2007 Racing season was all of that. We had some exceptional success, we had some spectacular failure.
Highlights included:
The first full passes in our new liner.
First data from our Qwikdata system.
Our first ever passes over 200 MPH --Kristeen and I earned our “A” (over 200 MPH competition licenses).
Kristeen went fast enough to grab the beautiful “Fast Lady of the Meet” trophy.
We validated our aerodynamics and performance theory as only empirical testing can do.
No one was injured.
Lowlights Included:
Unintended parachute deployments.
Poor function demonstrated by my snazzy drive chain tensioning system.
A spectacular crash at ~200 MPH with my racing partner driving on a test run.
Picking up shattered fiberglass for a half mile down the course and hauling the Streamliner pieces home in a bag.

As you can see, 2007 was a Mixed Bag. On the plus side, My buddy Jim Owen didn’t get hurt in the crash, we got some good video courtesy of Paul Busta (not of the crash). The car was repairable.

Here’s the run by run account
My first run- (No video) I left the push truck very conservatively. I intended to run an easy check out run, say 150 MPH. But I started getting a nasty acrid smoke in the cockpit. I wasn’t sure what it was from, and it could have been engine exhaust. It kept getting worse, it burned my eyes and my sinuses. I was concerned that if it was exhaust, the Carbon Monoxide would impair my judgement when I least needed bad judgement. At about the 1 ½ mile mark, I decided to park it and figure out what was happening. It turned out to be nothing more than my new fiberglass exhaust header wrap had manufacturing chemicals burning off. While it was nasty and unpleasant for the driver, once the headers had been hot one time it was done and not a serious problem.
We put the liner back in the staging lanes and prepared for a second run.
Second run video

As you might have noticed, there was significant “Driver Error” at about the ¼ mile marker. On that run, I about wrecked the car. This video captures that incident pretty well. I was preoccupied with something (probably tachs and shifting) in the cockpit. The car at that point had a significant pull to the right. This pull, combined with my inattention, led to a situation--- When I looked up I had a windshield FULL of that black ¼ mile marker. I corrected the steering wheel left---- too aggressively. You can see the car pitch sideways and snap back. You can also hear me lift off the throttle. The pitch sideways/snap back simply made my stomach drop out. Data recording shows that the incident happened at about 105 MPH, and the snapback popped my lateral accelerometer to .4 G. I slowed back down to 90 MPH and paused to consider the error of my ways. Remember, this is the first time I managed to make a full pass, and only the second time I had driven the car under its own power. I promise to make more gentle steering corrections from now on.

You can see the incident in the lateral “G” data here. Click image for larger view.

The run data also shows something interesting. If you look at the speed traces, you see a big uptick near the end of the run. I had intended to run thru at about 175 MPH as a shakedown run. But at about the 4 ½ mile, I could just see that final 5 mile marker at the exit, so I kicked it—I just couldn’t resist. It picked up big time. From about 175 to an exit trap speed of 208 MPH. Not bad acceleration from 175. Shut down was fine and a check in the pits indicated it was still good to go.

For our next runs we put Kristeen in the seat. Her first run was spoiled by unintended parachute deployment. The chute came out (inadequate latching mechanism and vibration) at about the 1 mile and she ran on thru with a fully blossomed parachute at about 165 MPH.
We put her back in line and she had a really solid run, except that the pull to the right caused her to pass outside of the final timing clocks. Her “official speed" was not recorded in the final mile. Our data showed 232 MPH, but her official time was set in the middle mile at 219.232 MPH. That speed was good enough to win the “Fast Lady of the Meet” Award.
Fast Lady 2007 Timing ticket

Here is a hot video of Kris passing by the 3 mile marker.
After she passes by the camera, you can hear her shift into 6th gear. Speed at shift is 196 MPH.

I need to stop for a moment to explain a bit about the “Fast Lady” award. It ain't your usual "Bowling Trophy"! The USFRA does a great job of that particular award. Bud McManus sponsors the award and works with a digital designer to create a really gorgeous work of art. Photos of the car are used to create a scale replica of the vehicle floating inside a large block of leaded glass crystal. The 17 pound block of crystal is mounted on a base equipped with blue LED lights that shine up thru, illuminating the car inside. A real class act.

Kristeen's 2007 Fast Lady Award

That brings us to the final run of 2007. I wanted my longtime racing partner, Jim Owen, to get a little seat time. Jim is a very experienced driver. He held (and still holds as of 4/2010) the SCTA MPF/F 1350 cc MC class Record @ 219.555 MPH. We often confer during the off season about plans and modifications for the upcoming season. Getting him more familiar with the ‘Liner would make the discussions easier. That was the plan. It didn’t work that way.

We had another unintended parachute deployment, at about the 1 mile mark. The chute that came out this time was an untested military surplus parachute. Actually, it was a pilot chute from a large cargo parachute system. Jim was doing nearly 200 MPH when the chute came out. As soon as it “hit” it failed. It broke two adjacent shroud lines and ripped the panel between these shroud lines. That damage changed the parachute into a very powerful kite.

It picked up the rear of the car and flopped it over on its right side. The first clue Jim had that something was wrong was “no horizon”, all he could see was salt. After that, as he put it “I was just crashing”. We were very fortunate. The parachute that caused the crash actually helped to keep the car headed straight so it couldn’t “pencil roll”. It helped to slow the sliding car, and keep it from gyrating. Considering the speed involved, the damage was surprisingly light. The fiberglass body was pretty completely ripped from the chassis, and parts and pieces of fiberglass were scattered along the ½ Mile long crash path. Tthe 3/16” aluminum bulkheads that separated the cockpit from the engine bays were bent beyond repair from scraping along the salt, but overall, we were very lucky. Jim was uninjured. The safety equipment worked as intended. In the crash photo, you can see Jim out of the vehicle unassisted and walking towards the first course worker responding. There is no video of the crash.

Click on image for larger version.