Conditions at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah are not looking too good for this year’s Speed Week—especially for the eager petrol heads looking to go insanely fast in fully customized mechanical contraptions.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune article linked here, salt levels on the flats have reached dangerous levels due to depletion from mineral mining and environmental erosion.
For those unfamiliar with the ecosystem of the Bonneville Salt Flats, it's an alien landscape completely devoid of life—truly remarkable from every angle. The crusty salt surface, which has varied in thickness over time from six-inches to now only two-inches and less, lies atop a dirt and water quicksand-like surface that makes racing or traversing the flats impossible.
The salt crust is the platform that allows for high speed machines to operate. The thicker the better, but with current conditions being what they are, who knows what fate the future holds.
Just as thickness is important, so is the distance of the track. Land speed shattering vehicles need a minimum of six miles to get up to speed, hit their traps and slow down. This is the SCTA’s desired distance for setting up a track, and this year no six mile stretch has salt over two inches thick.
As motorcyclists, many of us—myself included because I worked on the project in 2014—are eager to see if the Triumph Rocket can break the 376.363 m.p.h. barrier set by Rocky Robinson and the Top Oil-Ack Attack in 2010, and take back the title of “World’s Fastest Motorcycle".
2014 saw similar environmental delays on the flats as inclement weather, which brought heavy rains and flooding to the flats.
We are waiting for a response from the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA)—the main sponsors and organizers of Speed Week—on whether or not Speed Week will happen at all this year.
In the mean time, enjoy this beautiful video put together by Triumph Motorcycles America last year on the Microclimate of the Salt Flats.
Credit: Triumph Motorcycles America
Photo Credit: Tony Webster, Flickr (Creative Commons)