Thursday, October 30, 2008

Custom Garage Magazine

Finally, the latest issue of Custom Garage Magazine is out and they published 4 of my articles. There's a total of 16 pages with photos and text by yours truly. Unfortunately they're only available in Spain and the articles are in Spanish. I've decided to post the articles in 4 blogs, starting here with the Bonneville Speed Week article. Mind you I'm more of a photographer than a writer so feel free to drop the advise on how I can improve my writing (don't mention grammar, I'm well aware of that one). Enjoy

Bonneville Speed Week 2008
Bonneville is known as the fastest place on earth. It is a place where history is made and records are broken. In some cases it happens all in the same week. 15,000 years ago this was a different story, back then this haven for hot rodders was just another lake. It wasn’t until 1949 when a group of guys came together to put their hot rods to the test. This would be the start of what would eventually evolve into Bonneville Speed Week. 60 years later Bonneville is still running strong. The event is now being organized by the BNI & SCTA, two organizations dedicated to preserving the sport of land speed racing and doing a hell of a job.
The feeling of being on the lake where so much hot rod history has been made is incredible. Seeing real hot rods racing across the lake was like watching tigers in the wild. There are no chain link fences or concrete barriers separating the drivers from fans. Here you’re free to talk to every racer big or small. Even as they’re lining up to make their runs you’re still only a few feet away. It’s no surprise many travel great distances to experience “Bonneville Fever”, some driving from as far away as Maine, USA. There was even some Kiwi’s (New Zealanders) in attendance, how’s that for long distance? When I think of these dedicated hot rodders traveling cross-country or even across “the pond” just to be here, I begin to wonder what was this voyage like in the 1940’s? Today we have the modern convenience of cell phones, air conditioning and navigation systems but what did the hardcore hot rodders of days gone by do when they ran out of fuel or blew a head gasket or worse, wrecked? Even in this day and age there are stretches of roads with out a medical facility in sight or even a gas station for that matter. We found this out the hard way; imagine three grown guys sharing a small bag of chips for 2 hours because there wasn’t a gas station or cafĂ© for hundreds of miles! What possesses men and women to take on such a voyage? Why not just head down to the local street rod show? After experiencing Bonneville first hand I know why, it’s passion. Bonneville is all about passion, it’s what drove them then and it’s what drives them now. Hot Rodders don’t come here to win a trophy for shiniest car or prettiest interior. They come here because of their passion for speed.


Leslie Porterfield is a prime example of this “passion”. At the young age of 16 Leslie shelled out $200 bucks to buy a motorcycle as a means of transportation. Who knew this was only the beginning, she quickly fell in love with motorcycles and her appetite for speed evolved. Did I mention she use to run her own construction company and currently owns High Five Cycles, a used motorcycle dealership? Talk about every hot rodders dream girl; brains, beauty and an appetite for speed. As time went on she knew ordinary racing wasn’t enough, Leslie wanted to go down in history so she set her sights on Bonneville. Her first trip to Bonneville was in 2007 and would not come without a hefty price. While running her turbo Hayabusa she wrecked, leaving her with 7 broken ribs, a punctured lung and a concussion. Any sensible man would have cut his loses and called it a day, maybe taken up some golfing but not this little speed demon. Not only was she back on her bike 2 months after the accident, she also came back to Bonneville this year and set a record in the “Naked” (no bodywork) class at 209mph! This girl not only has passion, she’s got balls.

Brauer & Sons racing team
is yet another example of this hot rodding passion. The father and son team out of Mentone, California has set 19 records in the last 10 years with their Big Block powered 1929 roadster. This year was no exception, Mike Brauer; son of Gary Brauer set a record at 259.897 mph in the A/Fuel Roadster class. Unfortunately with the good comes the bad, Gary Brauer had to leave Saturday do to a bleeding ulcer but don't worry guys he's doing better now. Without a doubt Gary and the boys will be back next year to break yet another record.

Scandinavian Street Rods,
What would you do if you found an original belly tank racer? Would you tear it down and completely restore it? Or would you leave it as is? Erik Hansson of Scandinavian Street Rods chooses the latter, sort of. A friend of Erik spotted this jewel in the backyard of a Pomona home back in 1992. After some heavy negotiating Erik got his hands on this hot rod relic. The original owner was Bob George of Redondo Beach, Ca. Bob raced the tank from '58-'61 out in El Mirage where it ran 147mph. Erik is still trying to unearth the complete history of the tank but it hasn't been an easy task. For now he's focused his attention on more important things, going fast! At first glance you would think he restored it to its original condition but nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing original is the body and the paint job but underneath lies shear mechanical genius. Erik cleverly has tucked every bit of suspension and steering within the body, nothing is wider than the axle. This helps keeps the tank as aerodynamic as possible. To keep the tank stable while it rips through the lake, four of the lower frame tubes are filled with lead and the floor pan is constructed of 1” steel. Unlike drag racing, weight is your friend on the flats. The tank is powered by a freshly built 59-A 292ci blown Flathead, which hit a top speed of 163mph. According to Erik this was just a tester, a little shake down if you will. The full potential of the new motor has yet to be unleashed. Erik even had a chance to swap out motors and put in his older naturally aspirated 59-A 299ci Flathead, which ran 165mph. I will be following Erik closely in the months to follow to see exactly how fast this jewel will go once the motor is dialed in.

How do you define a Bonneville winner? Is there such a thing as a Bonneville winner? I'm not sure to be honest; the way I see it is there's triumphs and disappointments. You either break your own record or break someone else's. Worst case, you break something and leave with a very expensive lesson. There is however an important goal many set their sights on and the reward is a big red hat. I'm of course talking about the 200mph club; here is a list of this years newest members.

298 Troy Cochran - Raver - Cochran Racing - 216.598
76 Bob Nakonieczny - Ferguson Racing - 290.774
675 Bill Harris - Harris and Wester - 207.320
2132 Doug Macmillan - Honda RSX - 221.652
4449 Wayne Jesel - Jesel Motor sports - 219.487
760B Derek McLeish - Team McLeish Bros. - 218.240
913 Robert Duffin - Jan Berry Motorsports - 229.750
913 Russell Duffin - Jan Berry Motor sports - 230.545
332 Ronnie Tesinski - Robert Lindstrom - 229.386
5100 Ted Gedhill - Salt Flyer - 276.374
743 Roger Ross - Loose Screw Racing - 212.886
183 Russ Eierman - Eierman / Anacierio - 222.080
646 Mark Walten - Reflections - 214.556
777 Dennis McNeil - Fjastad - Kinne – McNeil - 266.426
6751 Richard Ross - Harris & Webster - 207.190
7431 Leo Sands - Loose Screw Racing - 219.909
630 Gary Spencer - Spencer Racing - 250.704
81 Mark Weiler - WZBD Racing - 324.376
752 Zofia Peda-Proffit - Ferguson Racing - 280.508
912 Walter Medun - Linsmeyer Motor sports - 216.305
2211 Bill Smith - Smith Special Const - 299.642
1976B Leslie Porterfield - Leslie Porterfield - 209.046
9700B Shane San Miguel - San Miguel Racing - 205.193
222 Troy Langlo - Langlo Racing - 246.550
9843 Tim Schnell - Schnell Racing - 210.270
278B Robert Steele Jr. - Stainless Steele Racing - 208.959

If you’d like to check the complete results of Bonneville 2008, visit
In a nutshell Bonneville is a hell of an experience, but there are few things you need to know to make it a memorable experience.

1. If you’re driving make sure to fill up your gas tank and grab some snacks because you don’t know where the next gas stop may be.
2. Sun block, SPF50 to be exact. The white surface of the salt flat bounces back sunlight, which means you can get a serious sun burn from every which direction.
3. Water, and tons of it. Trust me you’ll need it.
4. If you’re a picky drinker bring your own booze or you’ll be sucking on crappy canned booze all week.
5. Make sure you shake your sheets out before going to bed. If you don’t, you may just find a lizard crawling up your leg. Yes I’m serious.

1 comment:

Christian Mejia said...

Alavaro! Where are you? I think you did a great job Alex. Being published is a HUGE deal and I bet this will make you more sought after. Congratulations!

Hey, do a burnout!