With the GPO sneaker at Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats, USA
Micha Vogt and his Race Antz Team (long-time partners of GPO), have made the long journey over the Big Pond to the States to take part in the Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Here is a short excerpt from the great travel log of the Race Antz Team:
“This morning we reached the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s quite impressive natural sight, an unending sea of white salt framed in by the mountains made even more intense at sunrise.
In the distance, the outline of the racer’s camp comes into view and luckily Harry, who made the whole trip possible, knows exactly where we need to register and get inspected. Shortly after that, the drivers are instructed the rules for racing on salt in no uncertain terms.
Next comes a group drive on our 5 mile raceway to get acquainted with the course.
We go back to the driver’s camp grab our great-looking ’64 Mercury and head back to the starting line. In order to qualify for the race we have to take a rookie lap and show our driver is capable of leaving the track within thirty seconds if he has to. Movement is a real challenge because for this race, my arms and body are linked by restraints in such a way that I can only reach the steering wheel and the gear shift. I have to drive the course between 110 and 120 mph.
In discussions with Harry, the team and other racers, it becomes clear that the driving on salt at top speeds over a 4 mile course is something totally different than anything we have ever experienced in drag racing.
We all get a bit of an uneasy feeling. And then the time comes: the starters check the belts one last time, the doors close and Micha starts the engine. The start official stands in front of Micha and gives him the instruction to close his visor and then two thumbs up. Micha nods and is set to go.
The Mercury shoots out of the start and quickly speeds ahead. A little bit of gas is all it takes for the tires to really dig into the salt and for the back end to begin to sway.
Micha definitely seems to be more relaxed but impressed by his first race. He describes the incredible feeling of driving on the unbelievably smooth salt flats where not even the tiniest bump exists. Even the tire tracks of the 20 cm racing slicks become quickly filled in by the salt. It is somewhat comparable to slightly wet, muddy or even a frozen surface with one difference: after a certain speed one small steering movement can end really badly for the driver. The first test was passed. Now the real racing can begin!
We get in line right after the lap, the sun now directly overhead and without sunglasses you are basically blind. After a short wait, it is time to race again, knowing this time 110 mph is not the limit.
Two thumbs up and Micha is once again hitting the gas, the Mercury quickly disappears and becomes a black dot on the horizon. You can see the Mercury drifting to the right and how the salt is thrown up as it does. Over the radio the race results come in. A deep breath. 142 mph. Everything okay. The goal of breaking a 130mp/h has definitely been reached.
Micha describes the feeling of being at his limits, as the racecar began to leave the course, and only by hitting the gas can he pull himself out of it. Our will to push the envelope is growing and one thing is clear now – have got to join the150 mph club.
It is Day 2 and we have little time to enjoy the wonderful blood red sunrise over the salt flats. We want to be one of the first at the starter’s desk, as we think our chances are better in the cooler morning hours. We get lucky and are pegged to be the first starter of the day in the 150 mph class. The procedure is now routine and everybody now knows the Krauts who flew in extra from Germany. The engine is running, the team is extremely tense and then … START!
You can feel Micha really trying to outdo yesterday’s performance as the Mercury blazes away into the horizon in an infernal roar.
The engine’s roar begins to wane here in the starting area, and now we can only hear how the automatic transmission is seamlessly shifting up as Micha relentlessly hits the gas.
He had only one instruction from us: “Pedal to the metal.” The car is shooting straight down the middle of the racetrack, no one says a word, we are all just waiting in anticipation for the results over the radio.
The voice crackle and hisses: 151.55 mph. Victory is ours. For this once, we have beaten time.”