Blue sky and the white salt crust combine to make one of the most alien views you’ve ever seen. If you have never been to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, it had better be engraved on your bucket list. You don’t have to appreciate land speed racing or the historical significance of what has transpired on the salt since the dawn of the automobile to enjoy the vast emptiness of it all. But it certainly helps the cause, doesn’t it? You forget about the heat, you forget about the sun, you ignore the sunburn that is creeping up your legs like some kind of Looney Tunes skit. You realize that this is automobile racing Genesis. You realize that the men who dropped the bombs on Japan trained out here, away from anybody and everybody else. You realize that outside of the world of racers, hot rodders, and historians that descend upon the region every year about this time, that you might as well be on the moon. And at night, you can step out onto the salt, in the pale light, and you will swear that you were standing on the moon itself. Epic just doesn’t do it justice. You have to see it for yourself.
My only visit to Bonneville, back in 2009, missed a lot of the point of Speed Week. I didn’t see one car make a hot pass…everybody was still teching in. I just walked the pits and hung out with folks and learned. And I roamed the whole footprint of the pits, checking out cars, looking over the details. Some bring full-kit teams out, others are working out of the back of a truck or under a cheap pop-up shade. You want an up-close look at what is going to go out and drive faster than some basic aircraft fly? Walk the pits. Talk with the teams. Learn.