Then, adding insult to injury, we discovered after we towed the dead car back to impound that somebody had raised the class record even as we were preparing for our initial run. So I wouldn’t have gotten a record – and earned a red hat – even if I’d been able to “back up” my time with a second run. Double sigh. As I was moping around the pits, a longtime Bonneville veteran told me, “If you own a record out here, you earned it.” Ain’t that the truth.
To chase a red hat, Sirna bought a ’29 roadster with a proven track record and retrofitted it with the M104 out of his Gullwing. Power wasn’t an issue. Straight-line stability was. Roadsters are inherently unstable “Any time the car bounced, it wanted to go backward,” Sirna says.
In 2019, the salt was in such lousy shape that he didn’t make any serious passes. In 2020, he lost control at 184mph, spinning around six times like a top. This year, after visiting a wind tunnel and modifying the car so that the centre of gravity was well ahead of the centre of pressure, he knocked out four runs without any drama and collected two records along with his spiffy red headgear.
Sirna figures he can collect six additional records with the 3.0-litre engine, and he’s going after a dozen more with a 2.0-litre V8 featuring a custom block made in New Zealand by a company called Prototipo mated to a pair of BMW S1000RR motorcycle heads. And after that?
“If I do a blown version, maybe I could get 800-850 horsepower, and the roadster might go closer to 280 miles per hour,” he says. “If you get into the 300 Miles Per Hour Club, you get a blue hat.”
“You just got a red hat. Now you want a blue one?” I ask him.
“Absolutely,” he says immediately, as if the answer were obvious. “We don’t know how yet. But we’re going to go after it. I may need a different car to go that fast.”
Sounds crazy to me. But salt fever will do that to a man – makes him think that earning a blue baseball cap is worth the outlay of insane amounts of time and money. Then again, I wonder what colour hat you get for joining the 400 Miles Per Hour club?