Friday the 17th was the last day of this years Bonneville speed week. The event had already exceeded all expectations and not a single member of the team was regretting the decision to make the trip.
We got to the our pit area early as we knew we would only be able to race until 12.00. The clutch problem still needed sorting and we wanted to check our engine map one last time.
As a shining example of the camaraderie in the pit lane we ended up using some tools at the Speed Demon pits. They were more than happy for us to help ourselves to whatever we needed, despite the fact they were busy preparing for a 480mph run.
In fact whilst we talk about camaraderie word had got round that we were struggling with fuel issues and we were offered four different carburettors to try to overcome the problems.
So Harry and Ian got the clutch working whilst Pete and Andy assisted Bruce getting the engine prepared.
Off to the start line, yet again on course 1. We had never seen Ian so determined, the plan was to go quite simply as fast as possible, throwing all mechanical caution to the wind. This was to be our last attempt. Quite literally all or nothing if it all blew up on this run then so what.
The tension was building, as this was the last day there was quite a large number of record runs and all the royalty of American land speed record breaking were there. As were all the top people in the SCTA, (The organisers of speed week). The chief starter is a man called Jim Jensen and whilst he had heard about our car this was the first time he was in a position to start a Jensen.
The buzz around the start line was electric. Two cars before us the Speed Demon left on a disappointing (for them) 435 mph run. An amazing thing to see from the start line. Behind us the Turbinator (a previous record holder this week in excess of 480 mph was waiting).
Our time came, we were waved to the line and despite some concerns about fluid leaking from the car we were allowed to run. The engine felt great, Ian was pushed to the start line, the starter waved us on and we had no gears. Ian was unable to select anything. Pete, Andy and Harry pushed the car as fast as possible but to no avail, we quite simply couldn’t engage anything. The collective groan from the spectators and officials was almost as loud as the exhaust. They were all so keen to see us do well that the disappointment on our behalf was palpable.
As a very wise man said to us, If land speed record breaking was easy, everyone would do it. More to the point we don’t think if it was easy we would want to do it.
Having said all of that and really keenly feeling the disappointment of not being able to reach our potential, we are all classing this as an incredibly successful failure.
Yes we didn’t top 200 mph. Yes we didn’t even get 150 mph. What we did get was to meet some amazing people in one of the most surreal and fantastic places on earth.
We have been receiving messages of support from all around the world for which we are truly grateful and if you are reading this don’t feel sorry for us.
We have achieved the impossible, on a very limited budget, we have got a 1965 car race ready (for two days at least!), over to America, through the SCTA tech inspection (one of the strictest race inspections in the world) and raced on all four courses over a week.
We have had the privilege to follow in the footsteps of so many famous land speed record racers. We lined up on the first and the last day (many did not!).
There are far too many thank yous to be added at this point. Once the dust (or salt) has settled and the enormity of our achievement has sunk in we will add the huge number of people that helped us to our ever growing list of gratitude.
To everyone that has been following us, a huge thank you, we could ‘feel’ your support from this distance and it made a huge difference knowing we were not alone on the salt.
We are now going our separate ways, for a while at least, to try and recover from a week of very long days and some highly stressed moments. But everyone has left with a spring in their step and strange ideas about how they can compete in the future.
Thank you all again.
We will post another message upon our return to the UK to tidy up the loose ends.
If you would like to talk to any member of the team about any part of our project, you would like some tips on how we got as far as we did or if you would like Ian to give one of his ‘in’famous presentations to any interested parties please contact us via the form on the website.