Speed Week returns to Bonneville after 2-year absence, but conditions still not ideal

Posted at 6:16 PM, Aug 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-14 23:52:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY – Thousands of racing fans are gathering at the Bonneville Salt Flats to celebrate Speed Week, and the event is returning after poor conditions caused cancellations in recent years.

The annual event is back after a 2-year absence, but, while fans are excited to see Speed Week return, conditions aren’t quite ideal.

Fans looked on Sunday as dozens of the fastest motorcycles and land speed vehicles attempted to break world records.

"Good to see it back again,” Scott Anderson said.

His son, Jeremy, added: "Most people are happy it's back. It's like a giant family out here, really."

It’s a sight the Andersons weren’t sure they would get to see again. Thin salt and an excess of water created unsafe conditions on the salt flats, and for the last two years Speed Week has been stalled.

The event draws attendees from all over the globe.

"People from England, France, and they all want to come out here and run at Bonneville,” Keith Copeland said.

Copeland drives for Black Salt Racing, and he's attempting to break a record himself. He said he’s reached speeds of 380 mph before, but he said those benchmarks may be hard to reach this year.

"It's still a little soft, but it's raceable, so it's fine” Copeland said of the conditions.

Louise Anne Noath is a land speed expert, and she said the conditions are better but still not the best.

"If I had to do a hashtag, it would be #BonnevilleHasAcne because it's bumpy, it's not bad, but it's bumpy," she said.

Noath said a combination of bad luck with the weather and bad land management has led to the current conditions. As a result, she says many of the veteran drivers are looking a bit like rookies.

"They're being careful: They want to test the salt, they want to test themselves, they want to test their cars and their crews,” Noath said.

Speed Week began Saturday and continues through August 19. The event is coordinated by the Southern California Timing Association, visit their website for details and for Speed Week results.