Independent Bonneville Racers



The "Little Guys"

Bonneville racing is a many faceted sport. To the casual Bonneville observer, the heavy hitters with the huge speed numbers may be all they notice or remember. The Burklands car setting top speed of the meet, Jim Owen or John Noonan setting Top Bike Speed of the meet, may be enough to overwhelm the senses. But when you get past that glossy cover and dig deeper into the heart of the Bonneville experience, you discover a whole ‘nother layer. For lack of a better name, I call them “The Little Guys”. Now that doesn’t mean they are small people. It refers to the tiny or nonexistent race crews they bring with them, and/or the small displacement classes they choose to compete in. Make no mistake about it; they are obsessed with speed and competition as seriously and completely as any of the high speed heavy hitters. In some ways maybe even more so. When you are limited to a tiny engine, or no support team, there is NO room for error. Every item, whether mechanical, aerodynamic, or logistic- simply must be exactly right. The effects of anything out of whack are magnified by the fact that there is usually no extra help or horsepower to make up the difference. Even the human aspect has to be spot on. If there is a mechanical problem, he has to figure it out and fix it himself. If a driver with a huge engine producing gobs of torque makes a minor bobble coming up to speed, he can usually rely on the bountiful engine output to allow him to recover. When there is absolutely nothing extra, no monster torque curve to rescue some driver error, no helpful crew to pick up the slack, the man and machine MUST operate in complete harmony.

These “Little Guys” are often forced by circumstances to be pretty accessible too. It is common for them to come to Bonneville ready to run with absolutely no one along as crew. Now with the regulation that “no racing vehicles may move anywhere except on the racetrack under their own power”, it means that they have to find someone to drive their push truck down and meet them at the far end of the track. That Bonneville rule demands a minimum of two people to make a run, one to drive the race car and one to drive the chase vehicle. So, unlike say NASCAR, willing spectators can find themselves suddenly working as Bonneville Race Crew. If you ever find yourself on the inside of one of the “Little Guys” teams running Bonneville, it will likely be one of the great experiences of your racing life.