Assault on the Salt

Fox Valley Tech Plans Return to Bonneville

John Gunnell - May 21, 2014 09:47 AM


The work is ongoing with the goal of Bonneville 2014.

Courtesy of John Gunnell

The 2012 was close to the goal, but hopes are high for 2014

Courtesy of John Gunnell

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      In April 2012, my friend Dave Sarna came into my office and tossed a copy of the "World's Fastest Indian" video on my desk. "You're going to Bonneville in October," he said.
      I answered OK without even thinking about it. How many 65-year-olds get to be on a Bonneville race team?
      Dave is an automotive technology instructor at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin. The college has a "Beat the Heat" team that drag raced a Firebird against a police departmnent race car at Wisconsin International Speedway. The club fixed and sold donated cars to fund their racing.
Dave decided to turn the drag car into a Bonneville car and take the students to Bonneville with him. After two visits to the October World of Speed ( event, Dave was hooked on earning the team a 200-mph club membership.
      In 2012, six students and six adult advisors overhauled the car for a run at the bacon. On its first run, the car hit its all-time high of 193 mph -- seven clicks short of the goal. On the second run, the car spun a pinion bearing. Through a Herculean team effort, parts were secured from Salt Lake City on Sunday evening and the axle was rebuilt for a third run.
      The third time wasn’t the charm. This time, the tranny blew and took some engine internals with it. With the team's bargain-basement budget, the car made it no further than the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals in the fall of 2013. There was no Bonneville trip that year, but at least Linda Vaughan signed the hood!
The program is back on for 2014. All of the regular suspects--young and old--are turning wrenches and spraying paint and slapping on POR-15 to get the Firebird ready for a run at the double century mark. There has been talk of donating the Bonneville Bird to a museum once Dave is wearing the 200 mph hat.
      Stay tuned for some "bucket list" updates on the project from organizational expert Tom Ales who keeps track of the progress (or at least tries to).  It should be interesting.