I grew up with the stories and the cars and the guys my dad worked with to build amateur race cars on nights and weekends, all in preparation for one hot week in Utah in August. Bonneville Speed Week was a highlight of his summer for many years, the one time he got to escape from being a husband, father, and office worker to go up to the salt flats and play with cars.
This year’s Speed Week is coming up (August 11-17), so I thought I’d do a little picture show of some shots from the family archives. I don’t know all the names, but the pictures kind of speak for themselves.
Yep, that’s my dad with a PBR in hand. No clue who the rest of the people are, but I love this shot because it looks like a beer ad from the 1950s.
I’m pretty sure that’s my brother holding the black hat. That car was built from the ground up to race here.
I do know two of the guys here: Nonnie and Joe Huss, brothers and two of my Dad’s best friends for many years. Nonnie had the space to build cars, Joe owned a gas station, and both of them were ace mechanics, like my Dad.
Old Gold – looks fast, doesn’t it!
One of the key points of Speed Week is that if you’re a member of SCTA (Southern California Timing Association), which sponsors the events, you can race almost anything with a motor. This was back in the day when “stock cars” meant cars from the dealer’s lot, not the hand-built, streamlined things they race in NASCAR now.
How stock? My dad once took his leased company car up there in the late 1950s, tuned up “a bit” from when he got it, and time-trialed it to 140 miles an hour. Several months later, when he turned in the car, the report came back that it was in good condition, except that they had found a lot of salt in very odd places during the post-lease inspection!
And to close out the post, here’s my dad at his happiest.
For those of you who only knew my dad in his later years, this photo is how I always think of him: working on cars, getting a kid to help him bleed the brakes, swearing (just a bit!) when things got messed up, and mostly just happy whenever he was around fast cars.
The secret of joy in work is contained in one word — excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.
Pearl S. Buck