“SPEED ON SALT”
Any number of books and articles have been published describing Daytona Beach, Indianapolis, and the principal race tracks and road-circuits of Europe, but ” Bonneville Salt Flats ” is still nothing more than a name to the many thousands who have been amazed and thrilled by the records set up by Abe Jenkins, John Cobb, Campbell and Eyston. ” Speed on Salt ” deals principally with the exploits of the last two expeditions but the authors find room to recount some of the history of the Great Salt Lake Desert, which proved such a formidable barrier to the pioneers trekking westwards to California’s promised land.
With the building of the Coast to Coast railway round the north of the Salt Lake the Salt Flats were forgotten, and it was not until the Western Pacific Company decided to cut straight across the wastes, which was accomplished in 1909, that the Desert became once more for a short time the subject of discussion. Motor-cars were few and far between in Utah, and it was not until 1914 that the Flats came to be used as a recordbreaking venue. Teddy Tetzlaff on a
” Blitzen Benz made an attempt at the Mile Record held by Bob Burman on the same car at 140 m.p.h. Unfortunately the time-keeping arrangements were rather sketchy and Tetzlaff’s record was never recognised. BY G. E. T. Eyston & W. F. Bradley In 1926 the Lincoln Highroad, a motor-road from the Atlantic to the
Pacific, was completed. In its course westwards it actually followed the railroad across the Salt Lake Desert, but still no one recognised the value of the level beds of salt as a record-breaking track. It was left to Abe Jenkins, himself a native of Utah, to bring it into the limelight.
In 1932 he set out to break the 24-hour record then held by a team of three Frenchmen, driving a Voisin, who had captured it with tremendous difficulty a short time before from Renault. His first attempt was disallowed, not being run under official observation, but a year latter he was successful in capturing the record at a speed of 110 m.p.h. with a Pierce Arrow. He drove single-handed throughout, and part of the time battling through a storm of wind and rain. In 1935, John Cobb and his fellowdrivers made an attempt on the 24-hour record at Montlhery but failed, and it was not until they had made the 4,000mile journey to Utah that they were able to secure it, raising the record from 127.2 to 134.85 m.p.h. Jenkins was not the man to be beaten, and in a month
or two had set about preparing a 7-litre Duesenburg with which to attack the record put up by Cobb’s 24-litre NapierRailton. Once again his skill won through, and delayed though he was by the car catching fire and the loss of the lighting system, he once again secured the coveted 24-hour record.
Eyston was, at this time, ready in England with his front-drive car, ” Speed of the Wind,” so off he set, with Stanihind and Denly, in another attempt to deprive Jenkins of the records put up on his native salt flats. The journey across the Continent by air, Campbell’s record attempt, the amazing dash on the ” Bluebird,” which raised the LandSpeed Record to over 300 m.p.h., the log of ” Speed of the Wind’s ” romantic and eerie run by day and night over the salt flats and finally Eyston’s own impressions of the run are well and truly dealt with in a book of absorbing interest. Illustrations and maps reach a high standard, and the only criticism we can offer is what may be called the lack of statistics. A short description of each of the cars which ran in the record attempts, notably the Pierce Arrow and the Duesenburg, would have been welcomed by English readers, while a full list of the record times and speeds put up in each case would have added to the book’s value as a work of reference.