|I made it to Bonnville!!! - barely. Here's the story
After busting my ass til 4 or 5 am for about two weeks straight, it was getting down to the wire. I was begging for parts from sponsors and friends. I try
to focus on the necessary stuff first. It doesn't matter if it looks good if it doesn't run right? So I focus on tires, seat, wiring, motor, fire extinguisher,
etc. If I had time I would work on body work and cosmetics, lights, dynamat, etc
Now the meet was suppose to start on Wednesday and go thru Saturday, but rain over the weekend threatened to end the whole meet. They
watched the salt, it absorbed alot of water and started to dry out. The official word was the meet would start a day late on Thursday and go til
Sunday. Sweet!, an extra day to get more stuff done. All day I would run around and get parts and supplies and all night I would install the parts I had
aquired. Time was running out Thursday comes, still not ready. I figure I can leave later and do the meet Friday thru Sunday. Well, still not ready, so I
figure it's more important to get it done and leave on Friday morning. By Thurday night at 4am, I realize it aint gonna happen. I don't have the front
windows in or any of the side Lexan. The tranny cover/firewall piece isn't made, I don't have a air/fuel ratio guage and no boost guage. Without
guages, no way to tune the engine properly and possibly hurt the motor. The 009 dist. wasn't locked out. Oh, and the problem of not having any
money to get up there is another HUGE problem. I had a guy that was gonna buy a short block a week before I was suppose to leave. Money
shouldn't be an issue. Well, he flaked out and left me scrambling to sell anything I could find to get some money for gas. Forget the race fees, it
wasn't gonna happen. That's OK. I'm just gonna take the bus up there and cruise around the salt for two day and take awsome pics and video. Last
minute, a buddy agrees to buy my trailer and paypals me enough money to cover gas and a little extra. I test drive the bus around the neighborhood
and load it up. I don't leave til 2pm on Friday and don't get up to Wendover til about 10:30pm. I eat and look for other VW guys at the Peppermill and
eventually head or the the bend-in-the-road to sleep in my SUV. I dont get to sleep til 2am, and get woke up at 6am with participants speeding by on
the access road. I can't go back to sleep now, I might miss something. I get to the front of the line and ask for a two day pass, and the worker tells me
they decided to end the event on Saturday!!! No Sunday, because there is not enough volunteers/workers to run the event. People have jobs to get
back to by Monday morning. What a disappointment, I guess I get one day to absorbe the salt.
So, I park the truck/trailer past the pits and unload the bus. I get my cameras and take off to start my event coverage. As I'm driving I notice a bus
following me, I recognize the bus from last years pics. I pulled over and introduced myself. His name was Craig and had his wife with him. He asked
me if I was racing and needed to go to tech. I told him it wasn't ready and I was just there to spectate. He said "just take it over there and see what
they say" at least get some advice for next year. So we head back to tech and I ask the tech guys to critique the bus and what else I need to run.
Well, after a little discussion, they allowed the bus to get past tech. I had a cage, fire extinguisher, 4 point harness, helmet, long pants/shirt, and
registration and insurance. I just happened to bring all the stuff, just in case something stupid happened and I was able to run. Well, it all fell
together, and I was about to go racing, or at least cruising.
You got to remember, I just got this running a couple days before this, still didn't have the guages I wanted, no shocks, no firewall. So I wasn't gonna
push it on a vehicle that hadn't been over 35mph yet. Not the way I wanted to do it, but who cares, I got the opportunity to run on the salt!!!! It really
didn't matter how fast I was gonna go.
Run #1 - Just a shakedown. I was nervous as hell. The salt is still a little moist, and it is loose on top. It's solid like concrete under the top layer, but
the top is loose. So, I get her started, wait, and get the go ahead. I start off kinda slow and just accelarate gradually because it's easy to spin your
tires if you hit it too hard. The piece of shit sandrail shifter wont engage properly and gives me grief. I run out through the .2 then the .5 and then the
1 mile mark and then coast to the end and make the return back to the timing shack.I was given the slip and said 68mph through the mile mark. It
actually felt pretty solid and straight, but knowing you are on a loose surface makes you ass grap the seat as you go faster. As I get the timing shack,
the tach starts jumping around and the bus craps out. I try to restart and nothing. Craig comes to rescue me and tow me back to the pits. We
diagnose the MSD box or timing retard box is not working, so we reroute the wiring, put a bosch blue coil in, change out the plugs and she starts
back up. We are on our way back to the start line.
Run #2 - I pull to the line, all of a sudden it starts running like it's on 3 cyls. I pull off the start and pull the valve cover. A pushrod had worked it's way
out of the rocker adjuster cup. I figure I can fix it there if I had just a couple tools. So Craig and Justin bust out their limited tools and I make it work.
Time is getting short. There is only an hour or so to run. I start it up and still alot of valve clatter. I figure the cam is going flat. It's the second time I've
ran the valves and they keep getting loose. It's running, but not perfect. But your lust for speed overwrites your common sense and I pull it up to the
line again. I take off a little harder, grind some gears, and accelerate harder. I can definitely feel it's going much faster, but since we unhooked the
MSD, I didn't have the tach working to tell how high it was reving. The previous 68mph run the motor was turning at 3200rpm, it was definitely going
higher this time. My ass was puckering as it sped down the salt. Very cool and scary as hell. It felt like it could spin out at any moment. I get back to
the timing shack and he gets me the slip....94mph!!! Super cool. Still only at maybe 3/4 throttle. Maybe 4200 to 4500 rpm (guess). Get back to the
starting line and talk it over with the boys. They insist I have to go faster that 100mph, and I agree. I let her cool down for a few minutes. The course
is going to close in about 45 mins.
Run #3 - I start it up and the valve are really making alot of noise. It's not as responsive as before. The cam is wearing away I figure. So, I'm gonna
have to split the motor anyway, so lets machine the cam all the way down. I get going pretty hard, but it won't rev as high as before, but it's still
pushing the bus well. As I get past the .5 it feels OK and then about half way to the mile mark it just lays down. It's loses power like a motor that is
overheating or running out of fuel. I just coast to the end and turn back and it runs OK on the return road but the valves are geting louder. The time
slip only gives me an 86mph. No suprise and no 100mph for me. I got beat buy 3 different 36hp competitors !!!! Loser. It wasn't just the motor, it's
also the pilot. I need to man up, and get this thing to where it feels stable at speed.
Overall it was a great day. I got to run at the legendary Bonneville Speedway. I got three more runs than I thought I would get that day. I was surreal
to be going down the salt. I will definitely be back. Better prepared, better looking, and higher speed. The first goal has always been the 130 mark. If
we get that then to the 150 club and a run on the long course. Some day....
Just a side note. You too can run at Bonneville. On the 130 short course, you dont need to run 130 mph. You run your car as fast as it will go. You
dont need a cage, flush windows, race motor, etc. You can take your car up there and run it too. You do need to have a coule things like a fire
extinguisher, helmet, insurance/registration and a couple more things. It's very basic and ment to get people introduced to land speed racing. Look at
the USFRA webiste and look at the rules for the 130mph club. It's a very short list. There was 7 VWs running at this meet, There should be many
more. Make a plan to at least attend next year, but even better plan to run your VW. It's such a blast and so historical. Just do it.