During the 60's we started to travel to The Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah for the Bonneville Nationals. By the time I was 14, I was a Course Steward on The World's Fastest Speedway. At the age of 16 I was on the pit crew for Motion I; a twin engine Streamliner that was built to break the Land Speed Record (409+ MPH) for wheel driven vehicles. Motion I crashed at a speed in excess of 425 MPH and the driver, Noel Black, suffered fatal injuries.
By the following year I was riding a motorcycle competitively on The Salt. I actually set a Land Speed Record on that first outing. Six minutes later it was broken by somebody else by less than two miles per hour. Quite possible the shortest record ever held in racing history.
The motorcycle was just a means to let out my high-speed frustrations until we (my father and I and later my younger brother, Mark) built my first race car; a 1963 Ford Ranchero powered initially by a 221 c.i.d. Small Block Ford and later by a 260 and 289. This car set several records at both El Mirage Dry Lake and the Bonneville Salt Flats. My brother, Mark, still holds one after close to 20 years later.
Eventually, we joined as partners with Jim Lattin to form the, soon to be infamous, Lattin and Gillette Racing Team. Jim had recently acquired the world famous Redhead Streamliner. So with The Redhead, Ranchero and a couple of Jim's Highboy Roadsters we soon became the most successful racing team on The Salt. It was in 1978, while driving The Redhead, that I entered the exclusive Bonneville 200 MPH Club, by setting a Land Speed Record of over 216 MPH in E/Gas Streamliner; a record that lasted for 11 years before it was broken. We ran The Redhead with several different engines (260 Ford, Flathead Ford and Ardun overhead valve converted Ford Flathead). The Redhead now resides in Jim's Private Antique Race Car Museum in Encinitas, California alongside other historic racers from Indy, Ascot, and many other racing venues. While at the 50th Annual Bonneville Nationals in August of 1998 I learned that the famous model builder Ugo Fadini will be building and selling exact 1/43 scale replicas of The Redhead in 1999. If you would like information on how to buy one of these or any other of Ugo's skillful replicas, please E- mail me and I will see that you get all the information you're gonna need to buy a piece of Land Speed Racing History.
I have also been present for two very important events in Land Speed Racing. In 1991, I was on The Salt when my longtime friend, Al Teague, set a Land Speed Record for wheel driven vehicles at almost 410 MPH, with a one-way top-speed of 432 MPH as I stood just 1000 feet away as he went by at that speed.
In the fall of 1997 I was on The Black Rock Desert in Northen Nevada when the British jet powered car, Thrust SSC, set the first Land Speed Record of over 700 MPH at 714+ MPH. I am lucky enough to have the first autograph given by driver Andy Green after setting this landmark record. Two weeks later Andy became the first person to set a Land Speed Record at over the Speed of Sound (764+ MPH about Mach 1.02). Unfortunately, I was unable to attend on this day.
America's only real contender to break this record, Craig Breedlove, is continuing his attempt to return The World Land Speed Record to The United States. In 1996 I was present when Craig had a malfunction at about 675 MPH, almost flipped over, then proceeded to make a right turn at over 600 MHP. This happened as I looked on only 1/4 mile away. Craig has been one of my heros since he first broke The World Land Speed Record in 1964 becoming the first person to establish a record speed of over 400 MPH.
The links listed below will lead you to some of the events and cars/drivers that I have mentioned above. Many of them have links that will lead you to other sites with information on other cars and drivers.
Remember, most sports only require one ball to participate. For this one you need two; the bigger, the better.