Bonneville Roadster Project

My name is John Weatherwax, and I am the owner of Cutting Edge Metal Specialties in Costa Mesa, Ca. As our name implies, we are a high end metal fabrication facility established in 1993 when I started working out of my garage in the evenings and weekends while working full time for Dan Gurney’s All American Racers. During this period at AAR, we designed, built, and campaigned the Toyota GTP sports car that won the 24 Hours of Daytona, the grueling 12 Hours of Sebring, and three straight IMSA GTP championships.

I am in the early stages of the construction of a 1934 Ford bodied gas/fuel roadster to be run at the Bonneville Salt Flats in August of 2011. During this event, known world wide as “Speed Week”, we will be attempting to take this C class (306-373 cubic inch) roadster to a world record speed over 230 MPH. The current record is 229.308 MPH, set by a team from New Zealand in 2006. I have been thinking about doing this Bonneville roadster for over a year, and I feel the timing has never been better for this project.
Todd Haas' '34 Ecotec Roadster
(To see more shots of Todd Haas' '34 Ecotec Roadster, please visit Jimmy Shine here.)

I have a number of innovating ideas for the building of this car, which I think will generate a great deal of interest. Not only will I be promoting this endeavor on our Bonneville web site, but we’ll also be detailing the engineering, fabrication, and testing of the car. The website will also list sponsors and supporters of this project.

 
Steve Bells’ ’36 Roadster
(For more 2006 Speed Week photos, please click here.)

Speed Week is like no other speed event in the world. The atmosphere at Bonneville is totally unique, and truly an unforgettable experience. The salt flats have a great deal of land speed history. For the past 58 years, men, and women, have brought their cars, trucks, motorcycles, hot rods, lakesters, and streamliners to this historic venue in the hopes of setting speed records. Since the release of “The World’s Fastest Indian”, starring Anthony Hopkins, interest in this event has never been greater. This past August, a record number of entries, over 500 participants from all over the world descended on the salt flats with all types of machines, from million dollar efforts to back yard projects, to compete for world records in their perspective classes. Most participants are serious racers, but many just come to have fun, “run what they brung” and be a part of the experience. In the evenings after the sun goes down on the salt, many participants and spectators gather in the Wendover hotel and casino parking lots with their cars, trucks, hot rods, and rat rods for hours of bench racing and show and tell. For the most part, this is an amateur speed event, but large corporations are now realizing the interest in Bonneville and using the salt flats for both promotional purposes and as testing grounds for their businesses and products. Both Ford and Chevy have been involved in Speed Week. Ford was there this past August with the Ford Fusion Hydrogen 999 Fuel Cell race car which set a world record of 207.297 for a production based fuel cell car. Also, the Buckeye Bullitt 2, a hydrogen fuel cell streamliner, designed and built by students from Ohio State University, made attempts at the 300 MPH mark. Boyd Coydington and his wife Jo were at Speed Week this year shooting a segment for American Hotrod. Last year, British American Tobacco, former sponsors of the BAR Formula 1 team, promoted the successful attempt of a Honda powered Formula 1 car to a record speed of 250 MPH. And in August of 2006, the British designed and built JCB Dieselmax project, a multi million dollar diesel powered streamliner, was driven by Andy Green to a world record speed of over 350 MPH for its class. This October, Dodge will be taking one of its Nextel Cup cars from the racing stables of Evernham Motorsports to Bonneville to try to set a world speed record for a cup car.

For our Speed Week effort in 2011, we will be constructing a 1934 Ford bodied gas/fuel roadster. Most of the cars in this class are ‘32 Ford roadsters because of their popularity. I feel the ’34 will make a sleeker Bonneville roadster. Its front grill shell is raked back 10 degrees, and the rear of the car is aerodynamically cleaner than the ’32. In addition, the ’34 is allowed 9 more inches in over all car length which will give it a longer wheel base. The driver’s compartment is also lengthened allowing a driver to recline a little more and get down into the car thereby reducing the height of the roll cage and reducing drag. Fabrication of chassis and other components will be done at the facilities of Cutting Edge Metal Specialties.

For the power plant, I was very fortunate in 2007 to acquire a genuine Nextel Cup Chevrolet motor from Dale Earnhardt Inc. This 358 cubic inch engine was built in June 2006 and had one race distance on it when I purchased it. With a single four barrel carburetor, it produced 813 horsepower on the dyno of Van Dyne Engineering in Huntington Beach, California. If this years results with this motor in another gas roadster is any indication, I feel confident this engine will take us to a new world record in this class at over 230 MPH (see 2007 Bonneville Results for how this engine performed at Speed Week this year).

Man’s quest for speed has never been cheap. With today’s technology, the high cost associated with auto racing prohibits most individuals from participating in almost all forms of motor sports. Bonneville Speed Week is probably one of the last speed events in the world where an average guy, thru hard work, determination, and innovative thinking, can build something himself and then climb in it and prove what he can do with it. I will be seeking product sponsors and supporters of this endeavor in the hopes that the end result will be rewarding for all involved.

To date the following companies that have supported and sponsored this effort include Bosch, Redline Oil, Full Bore Race Products, K & N Air Filters, California Cycle and Design, and Stuttgart Performance. With a great deal of effort, a winning attitude, and working with the right people, I feel strongly this project will both exciting and successful, and provide a life time of memories. I hope you can be a part of it!

John Weatherwax
Cutting Edge Metal Specialties


For more information about John Weatherwax, and Cutting Edge Metal Specialties, please go to www.CuttingEdgeMetalSpecialties.com.


For more information and pictures from this past years Bonneville Speed Week, please go to www.SCTA-BNI.org.