Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats

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Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats

Bill Gurstelle is a Contributing Editor for MAKE magazine. His most recent book is entitled Absinthe & Flamethrowers: Projects and Ruminations on the Art of Living Dangerously. You can follow Bill on his danger-quest at twitter.com/wmgurst. He is a guest Make: Online author for the month of August.

In this month’s MAKE magazine, Volume 19, I’ve got a piece on the world-famous Speed Week. That’s the gathering of speed enthusiasts that meets at Bonneville Salt Flats, near Wendover, Utah, to celebrate all things that go very, very fast but don’t leave the ground (at least if everything goes the way it’s supposed to.)

belly tanker resized.jpg

The MAKE piece focuses on a special type of vehicle called a Belly Tank Racer. Of all homemade four wheeled vehicles, the belly tankers appeal to me most. After World War II, a California race car builder named Bill Burke came up with the idea of building a race car out of war surplus 165- and 315-gallon aircraft drop tanks, typically referred to as a belly tank. (The original use of the drop tanks was to extend the range of P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning fighter planes.)

I took lots of photos of the belly tankers, but because of space considerations, only a few could appear in the article. So, I’ve placed several more photos of them on my blog, Notes from the Technology Underground.

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William Gurstelle

William Gurstelle is a contributing editor of Make: magazine. His new book, ReMaking History: Early Makers is now available.

View more articles by William Gurstelle


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