Well, it is another year and another trip to Bonneville with the 1946 Race Car. I and my new traveling companion, Dennis Dagliere left Wallingford on August 1st. We made it all the way to Dayton, Ohio the first day. We passed Billy “O” on the side of the road outside of Columbus, but a phone check said he was OK. We took the low road (I-70) across this year through Kansas. The second night we stayed in a camp ground in Paxico Kansas. A town not readily found on any map. It was the coolest little town.
We took a short cut up through Colorado and arrived in Laramie, WY the next night. Met a guy there and went to his shop. He had a few cool cars. We ate at the Altitude Cafe, a favorite establishment of mine. Got up on Wednesday morning, washed the coach and trailer and headed for Wendover. Popped one trailer tire in Wyoming and one more in Utah.
We went out on the salt early Thursday morning with the 46 Pontiac and staked out our pit stalls. Rod King and Gary Gustafson arrived mid morning with my pickup truck and the 1034 race car. They brought the 1034 car out to the pits and then I took the truck back in to fetch our trailer. People and cars were arriving all day.
After we set our pit stalls up and unloaded all or our equipment we both towed down to the tech line. Both cars went through easily with only one minor adjustment needed to the seat padding. Getting through tech on Thursday sure takes the mental load off. Richie, Ronnie, Ron Jr, Laura and Jimmy all got in safely. We were able to get a few loose ends cleaned up on the race car Friday and we got into town early enough to kick back at the Nugget with a nice meal.
On Saturday morning we had the drivers meeting early. A few of the SCTA people were recognized for different accomplishments along with the volenteers. The number of people it takes to put on an event of this size is tremendous. It is like our CSRA swap meet only three times as many. The person that got the coveted Bob Higbee award was Larry Volk. I didn’t know Larry personally, but got to know him later. Larry heads up the 200 mph club. I real neat guy to know if your lucky enough to go there. More on that later.
After the Drivers meeting we put our race car in line for the first run. Of course everyone else did too so it wasn’t right away. My friend John Beck brought his 511 D/BSTR roadster up in line ahead of us. The present record in our class was 208.8, set by my other good friend Donny Cummings in this same car. John ran up to 209 something and pulled his chute at the three mile marker. I supposed he did all he wanted to do and that put him into impound. We got to run a little later and the car ran horrible. I guess no matter how much prep you think you do, it just doesn’t always work for you. We went a slow 199 or something like that. I didn’t even want to remember. The only positive thing was that I made it all the way down and it didn’t heat up or damage anything. To the pits we went. We pulled all the injectors and cleaned them out. Then I disconnected my new MSD timing retard module completely. We worked on it for a while and when we fired it up and reset the timing it seemed to be perky enough to run again. The only trouble was it was now about 3:30 in the afternoon and the lines were long. We finally got to run at 5:30 or so. The car pulled real strong this time. When I saw the four mile marker coming up, I looked at the tach and knew I was over the 209 that John set. I also knew it was around 6:00 PM and I wanted to get to impound early so I decided to take the time I had at the four. Now I did something really stupid. I pulled my chute with my right foot still on the floor. When the chute came out, the rear wheels dug in and I started spinning in circles at 219 mph. Not a pretty sight. I guess I set another personal record. I have spun that car three times before, but never at that speed. When I got it stopped, I just jumped out all excited because I knew I was elligible to go to impound. The only problem was that it was late in the day and I also knew I had to get either Lee Kennedy or Kiwi Steve to re-tech the car before I could run again. I also had to find Dan Warner to certify that the car would indeed pass class. Luckily we got all that done and we were able to go back to town. No marguerittas that night. Have to get up real early and be fresh the next day.
The next day we are all up at “O” dark thirty headed for the salt. We pull up in line at Lands End just in time to head right out on the salt. We go to impound and hook up the car. We are allowed to go down to the fuel truck because we got to impound so late the day before. We fueled and sealed the tank and waited for the procession to go by. I didn’t want to run too early anyway so it worked well for me. I finally got in line knowing that John Beck had gone by earlier with the 511 car. The plan was to let John go first and hope he broke the record enough to get it and get into the “2″ club. It all seemed logical as he could only run to the three mile marker and I already had a faster time. Well John, being the expert driver he is, went by the three at 210 something. That solidified him in and left plenty of room for me. I was the last of the impound cars to run. The team juiced up the motor at the start line. It came to life and sounded healthy. They gave me a nice smooth push off and I let the clutch out in 1st gear. The car responded nicely and I feathered the throttle through 1st and 2nd gear. It fish tailed a little but I felt good holding it back. 3rd gear went even better and I finally banged 4th somewhere close to the one mile marker. When I got into 4th, I was able to roll into it pretty hard. Then I hit 5th and left my foot down from there. I watched the mile markers and tried to read my tach and guages. (things get a little hairy on the concentration level) When I got to the three I looked down. The tach was hovering around 7,000 RPM’s, not as high as I wanted, but it was still pulling hard. At the three and a half it was around 7,200 or 7,300 RPM’s. When I hit the four, I was up to 7,400, which I knew got it done. However, the car was pulling so good, and handling real well, so I decided to go all the way to the five. I knew it wouldn’t count for the record but might tell me what I really could do. I went through the five at around 7,700 RPM’s. That later translated into 219.93 MPH and the car actually peaked 220 out the back door. When the crew told me how fast it actually went, I almost forgot about the record. I never thought the car would ever go that fast. I was elated to say the least. Now it was off to Tech again. That is where they pump the engine to determine that it is classed correctly. I really wasn’t nervous about this because I knew we were legit.
After the engine passed certification the record was signed off on and became official. Now for the moment of my life. A moment I have been trying for over three years. The moment when Dan Warner handed me my Red 200 MPH Club Hat and shook my hand, inducting me into the coveted “2″ Club
We didn’t race anymore at all the rest of that day. We went back to our pits and basked in the glory, just letting the whole thing sink in. We took a lot of pictures and took the dreaded CSRA canopy down before it killed someone or destroyed a race car. Hey! it lasted three years. That isn’t too bad.
We went into town that night and ate and celebrated just a little. The thought that the car went over 220 MPH kept coming up in my mind. I just never thought that this car would ever go that fast. Soooooooooo we jumped right back in line on Monday morning to run it again. After the impound cars had all run, we got our turn. The weather was cool, the track looked good and the car fired up and sounded good. I got another real smooth push off and eased down the throttle. From my past experience, I kept it real low key in 1st and 2nd gear, but when I got into 3rd, I pushed it a little harder. The car felt good so I put it in 4th. Now I rolled into it hard, finally reaching 5th. The car was real solid with little or no bouncing around. The engine was roaring sweetly and I knew it was pulling good. I concentrated on counting the mile markers, which were coming by pretty rapidly now, until I saw the big five on the orange marker. I glanced down at the tach and guages. Tach over 7600, temp guage at 170 or so, and boost guage right on 21 #’s. When I went by the five, I gently rolled out of the throttle and pulled the chute. Poof! I felt it blossom, and started my turn off. I knew the run was good but I wasn’t sure how good. When the team finally found me, they told me we just hit 119.414 at the five and 220.328 out the back door. HOLY SHIT! This was just too much. Here we go to Warnerville (impound) again.
We checked the car over again in impound, reading the plugs, verifying the fuel system, and rechecking the timing. Everything was good. We changed out the fuel pill for a leaner mixture in the cooler morning air and covered it up for the night. Nothing to do the rest of the day, but we couldn’t party too much because we had to get up at “0″ dark thirty again the next day. We went into town that night and attended the Inliners Party. They fed us with some real good food as they do every year. They hold their party at the KOA campground which is where our motorhome is parked.
Tuesday morning we up real early and out on the salt by 6:00 AM. We hook up the race car to the truck getting ready to roll. Check all the air pressures in the tires, etc. Ron Jr. comes over to me and says we have a problem. The air tank for the shifter is empty. We left the valve on last night and it all leaked out. Scrambling time. Ron Sr. and Rich ran for the spare tank up in the pits. Jr jumped into the car and started unbolting the tank straps. I took the regulator off the tank and laid it aside. The new tank arrived. Jr bolts it in and I reinstall the regulator. I turn the air on and it reads 2000 #’s as it should. I turn it back off so it can’t leak out and we tow down to the line, just in time. When it is our turn to run, we fire up the motor. It sounds good. We push off and I let the clutch out. The car doesn’t go into gear. SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! what could be wrong now? the push truck gives up on me taking off and I just pull over to the return road. Somehow the regulator valve got turned off by mistake. We didn’t make our back-up run but we also were not far from the line. We simply towed the car right back into the line to run again. This time I verified that the regulator would be on when the tank was turned on. We got to run again later that morning and went 219.894 at the five and another 220.319 out the back door. Off to Warnerville again to wait for the next day.
The next day was Wednesday and we were up bright and early again. Towed down to the line with the rest of the impound cars. We took off smoothly again and I think I pedaled the car a little too softly. However, other cars seemed to be spinning all over the place and I did not want to spin out. It was a good run but I knew I wasn’t going as fast as I went the day before. Well, it turns out I only went 214.064 at the five which averaged out to a 216.979 record. We were happy that it was that good to say the least. When we examined the timing slips, it was noted that the day before we had a 7 MPH tail wind and today we had a 4 MPH head wind. I think that figures out we had an 11 MPH deficit just due to the wind. We took the car back to tech to recertify the engine size again.
Wednesday night we attended the 2 club banquet. We finally got to wear our white shirts we purchased three years prior in anticipation of this night. we had a fantastic meal and formally accepted the induction.
Thursday morning we finished packing, broke down the motorhome, and headed east for home. The San Giovanni’s stayed one mre day, but Richie and my faithful navigator, Dennis drove back with me.
When we arrived back in CT, three days later, what a surprise. It seems some of my friends gave me a surprise welcome home party. I want to thank all of my friends who supported me in this endeavor. The San Giovanni’s, Richie Libassi, Dennis Dagliere, and Jimmy Hanson. Without the support, it just doesn’t happen.