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Bonneville Speed Week 2016: 11 Cars Capable Of Smashing The Wheel Driven Record – Here They Are

Bonneville Speed Week 2016: 11 Cars Capable Of Smashing The Wheel Driven Record – Here They Are

There are a ton of reasons to be excited about speed week 2016. The fact that it looks like there will be a Speed Week is the first of those reasons and the second? The second is the pent up “let’s haul ass” attitude that everyone has right now.  Don’t believe us? This could be one historic week.

The fact is, there are a multitude of cars coming capable of resetting the wheel driven land speed record and they’re all about as similar as snowflakes. We know as well as anyone else that their performance is largely dictated by the “quality” of the salt. In 2013 damp salt conditions caused the place to behave like the world’s largest skating rink with a number of spins and aborted runs that rivaled anything that even the hardest core of the old timers had ever seen. We’ve got our fingers crossed for as good a surface as mother nature and the hard working SCTA people can provide, like everyone does. So back to our starry eyed wishful thinking for a moment.

In pouring over the SCTA’s pre-registration list (and understanding that it is a pre-registration list and doesn’t mean that everyone on it is coming) we started looking at cars running in the streamliner classes. Taking into consideration cars classing a lot closer to the start of the alphabet than the end, we came up with 11 machines that have been designed and engineered to run well into the upper regions of the 400mph envelope and a handful that are proudly seeking 500mph as a performance goal. On paper, Chad and I could announce that we have a 500mph car ready to hit the salt with as well. It is meaningless until someone does it, but the fact that there are DOUBLE DIGIT numbers of cars coming that have either run their way up over 400mph or are set up to do so is incredible. That is a LOT of heavy iron on the salt and each of those teams is showing up with the intention of throwing themselves at the big numbers before the other guys do. In 2013 we were hoping for a shootout between Speed Demon and the Vesco team but it never materialized. The Flashpoint car ran 382 despite the conditions and the fact it was a new effort, and there were other points of light in there as well. The reality is that when we look at the list of people “coming” it is damned impressive.

You didn’t ask, but we’re going to list off the 11 cars (in no particular order) that have a shot to reset the wheel driven speed record (piston or turbine) at SCTA Bonneville Speed Week 2016 – Here they are:

Flashpoint – Team of Dalton, Jackson, and Mayer


WHY: Went 382 during 2014 freshman effort. Have mega horsepower with blown hemi on nitro wearing a Darren Mayer supercharger, have stated that the goal is to go 500mph.

WHY NOT: Still pretty new in terms of an LSR car and even on a good surface, can they go another 118mph on top of 382 with a single engine? Some of the old timers weren’t crazy about the uprights and rudder design in rear. 



NEW – Speed Demon – Team of Poteet and Main  (OLD CAR SHOWN!)


WHY: If you are asking why, you have not been around this stuff for very long. This car has dominated the headlines for years and continues to today. It has gone 462mph and it is the fastest piston driven car in the world currently. They have Duttweiler horsepower and plenty of it. They have experience, they have made more runs over 400 than anyone in recent history since the days of Nolan White and Al Teague getting after it. They know others are trying to come for them. They are actually out testing on the salt as you read this. 

WHY NOT: Even with a week of testing under their belt, they still have a brand new car and despite what you may believe, even guys of this caliber still have things to work through with a new car. There are zero gimmies at this deal and they could have an off year. The surface may not support it. We’re having to reach for lame reasons. These guys are THAT good.


Turbinator II  – Team Vesco


WHY: This is the fastest wheel driven car in the world with a best speed of 470mph. Note we didn’t say RECORD SPEED. That was the fastest speed achieved in Turbinator II. The car came back after 10 years off the salt in 2013 and it was not a smooth week. They have something to prove and they would love nothing more than to win the race to 500mph with turbine power. 

WHY NOT: The huge team worked feverishly for days on end to get the car through tech and when they finally did, the runs did not come near what they hoped in 2013. Confidence is a big factor and this is a team that needs their mojo back. Could time have passed the big land laden missile by?



Carbinite – Team Carbinite


WHY: The entire mission of this project is to exceed 500mph. The design angle of this car is vastly different than any of the others in this elite group. The car ran at the2014  USFRA test and tune meet and performed to 278mph with a fuel issue hampering the team after that. 

WHY NOT: Virtually brand new car to the salt. They are running a smaller inch turbo combo which will be working REALLY hard, they have made 1,330hp to the dyno rollers, it would be amazing but exceptionally rare to see a freshman effort take the glory. 



Challenger II – Danny Thompson and cast of thousands


WHY: Sometimes things just take on a life of their own and the adventure that Danny Thompson has been on to complete this car has been amazing to watch. There may be destiny in play here. The car has gone 419mph and both injected, nitro-burning hemi engines performed well. Because you can never count a guy named Thompson out at Bonneville. 

WHY NOT: Virtually brand new car so there will be things that need to be ironed out when the wick is really turned up. Lots of pressure and a bright light being shone on the team at every turn. 


Nish Motorsports – Nish Family Team


WHY: The Car has been 412mph. They are using a Jerry Darien, 521ci injected nitro burning hemi on a 75% load. The car has been somewhat redesigned in the front end for improved aerodynamics. The family has been at this a long time and they are due for a couple of big numbers. 

WHY NOT: The 412mph run was made back in 2010 and since then it has been an uphill fight. In 2013, the first year out with the nitro hemi the learning curve was steep. Older car that has made some big laps but may not be a technological front runner any more. 


Spirit Of Rett – Nearburg Family and Team


WHY: The car has been over 410mph before. The crew is experienced and knows how to turn the car around/service it properly. It is one of a handful of cars that has ever set a record over 400mph. 

WHY NOT: Single engine car on gasoline and naturally aspirated. This is the outside of all outside shots. Incremental improvement will be great news for the team. The darkest of the dark horses.




Ferguson Racing Streamliner – Don Ferguson Jr. 


WHY: This operation has been running streamliners the salt for years with speeds far exceeding 300mph. Using a multitude of engines and combos they know how to go fast. With a modern design and lots of horsepower their past experience may pay dividends for them on the salt in 2016

WHY NOT: Lots of people have gone 300+ at Bonneville, few have gone 400+ and to accomplish not only 400 but substantially more than that on a first visit would be monumental. We believe this is a new car that has not been run on the salt as of yet. It sure is a looker, though!








Richmond and Stark Streamliner – Rich Richmond and Bud Stark


WHY: Built by two lifelong friends and hot rodders, this is a true backyard effort with no sponsor help. 2012 was first appearance of car and it ran a best of 251 after a couple days of work to get it through tech. This is the feel good story of the summer if they can get it together. The spirit of Bonneville IS this car.

WHY NOT: See virtually all of the reasons above. Having only made 251 in their first effort, they are a long way from being contenders. They will be coming out of left field if they manage to run over 400 and threaten some of the more established names. 


Target 550 – Team of Marlo Treit and Les Davenport


WHY: One of the most highly anticipated streamliners in decades, powered by a pair of 2,500hp blown alcohol burning hemi engines and frankly the name says it all. The goal here is 550 wheel driven, piston powered mph. Car did not appear at Speed Week in 2014 due to an engine failure and some body damage incurred when the engine failed

WHY NOT: Like many of our other potential contenders, the team has not had a lot of time with the car in motion, especially making big speed. Secondly the team announced that it would be running in Australia in 2017 so we’re not sure if the salt will be used as a testing spot for future big numbers of if the situation presents itself Target 550 will shoot for the moon. 


Haas Streamliner – Team of David/Todd Haas

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 1.33.50 PM

WHY: Body modeled by Cal Tech to be good for 500mph. A pair of turbocharged small block Chevy engines making the power. Salt veterans that may be on the list of teams “due” to rip off a big number. All the parts and pieces seem to be there.

WHY NOT: Tough trying to find info on when last time car was out. The teams that have been at it year after year may have advantage. Car has not shown that it has the oats to mix it up with the huge names on this list. Another for the corral of dark horses. 

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22 thoughts on “Bonneville Speed Week 2016: 11 Cars Capable Of Smashing The Wheel Driven Record – Here They Are

  1. Steven

    This is an awesome article. Thanks for putting this together Brian. The standard drag racing videos, hot rod pictures, and tech info found regularly on Bangshift are all great; but this kind of article is why Bangshiftsite stands far above other sites. I look forward to more Bonneville coverage in the coming month.

  2. Nitromike66

    I’ve been following Danny Thompson’s and the Treit and Davenport efforts for a few years, hopefully the salt will be good enough to see an epic shootout amongst all the heavy hitters!

  3. ratpatrol66

    My vacation slip is signed and I’m ready to watch and hear it happen!!!
    That flash point car has the most bad ass bark of them all, but I have yet the hear the 550!

  4. Chevy Hatin\' Mad Geordie

    Why not?

    So you build us all up to the thought of multiple 500mph record attempts and then shoot us down in flames. Or is this a spur for the teams to get their shit together? I think that is right and is some awesome psychology at work as you have basically identified every problem with every car BUT have given the poor teams hardly any time to rectify them.

    Is that because BangShift are fielding their own contender that does not have any of these problems…

  5. Brendan M

    Didn’t Triumph have a twin engine, quad turbo motorcycle they were hoping to run? I think it was called the Castrol Rocket. They claimed to be pushing 1,000 bhp and were trying to go almost 380mph with it.

  6. MD

    Flashpoint only became “Flashpoint” in 2013. In reality it’s one of the older cars out there, having been built and ran in the mid 80’s and setting the E/BFS record in ’90. It also ran in XO/FS around the turn of the millennium.

  7. Tim McNees

    hope the salt holds up, feel pretty good about the fact I built the frames in two of the above mentioned cars. Good Luck to all

  8. Tony

    I really wish I had been able to see the Burklands 411 streamliner run when it was still in competition.

  9. Milwaukee Midget

    Two years off has given all of these teams the opportunity to perfect their work.

    This year – if the weather and track holds – I think the Treit Davenport streamliner has the power to take top honors, provided they can keep the engines glued together. I don’t think they’ll see 550 at Bonneville – Gairdner is likely the only place you’ll see that speed. But this build has been methodical and exacting. I’ve followed the build, and I’m convinced the engineering and power is there.

    The new Speed Demon will be fascinating to watch – the car is new, but the team has perfected the model and knows how to avoid teething problems, so they can’t be ruled out. And if the Vesco team has put their earlier issues to bed, then there’s your wild card.

    As to the Spirit of Rett, think about this before you think of it as a dark horse. By staying normally aspirated, you’ve simplified engine development and improved potential durability. By running gasoline, you get by with smaller fuel tanks, which lets you build a smaller profile and a more balanced package, and with that, they’re likely to be able to more evenly put the power to the salt. It’s a different solution to the problem, but if this year turns into a durability challenge and if the track gets choppy – which I think it could – I’d bet on Rett.

    Best of luck to all of these teams!

  10. Dan

    I think your fact checking needs some work. Stating that Speed Demon has more runs over 400 than anybody, maybe Bandshift isn’t good at math. You should go and tally all of Nolan White’s and Al Teague’s +400 runs. Come on boys these guys were battling each other over 400mph for over a decade. Get your facts right. Not to take away from Speed Demons success but facts are facts. Lets not rewrite history, it is important to remember our roots and the guys who built their own cars and built their own engines and tuned them and maintenanced them and drove them.

    1. TrickyDicky

      The first Speed Demon made 29 runs at 400+mph average for the mile or kilo, plus a further 3 where only the exit speed was 400+.
      If you add together Don Vesco’s plus Nolan White’s plus Al Teague’s the number is about the same; individually they made less than half the number of Speed Demon’s 400+mph runs.

      1. Dan Waldrop

        Nolan White ran over 400mph for over a decade Speedweek and World Finals and more importantly always in 5 miles. Your math is real bad.

  11. Doug Scott

    This looks like it will be my best ever trip to the salt ,after 2 rain outs..
    Worth the 3000 mile round trip from StL…Im betting on Danny..

  12. Mark Brewer

    Wish I could be there. I have run with these people many times and can assure Les Davenport is a magician when it comes to sucking horsepower from a blown hemi. Their lakester was the loudest car on the salt as well always posting huge numbers. Every one of them deserve the title of first to 500 but I’m shooting for the speed demon. Ron Main is the president of the club I used to belong to, the Sidewinders. My last race was Speedweek 2000 and due to M.S. I will not be back. Good luck each and every one of you!!!

  13. Craig Pike

    Great article Brian, just what I was looking for. Sucks I’m not up there elbowing you for the best spot to shoot these bad mofo’s. Have a great one!

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