Frequently Asked Questions
Hopefully by answering some of your common questions we get asked, this will make coming to Speed Week a bit easier for you.
- What is land speed racing - what are the rules?
- Is there a schedule or program of events?
- Where are events held?
- How often is the salt used for racing?
- What are the different classes and records?
- Why are you racing?
- What does it cost to race?
- What provisions do you have for spectators?
- What accomodation is available and how much does it cost?
- Is food and drinks available at Speed Week?
- How far is it from the Lake Entry to the Pits or Start Line?
- Do I have to belong to a club to race my car?
- How do you get to Speed Week?
- Can I fly-in to Speed Week?
- Can I volunteer to help out at Speed Week?
- Can I race may street car or bike at Speed Week?
- Can you explain the DLRA Licensing system?
- What sort of tyres are used on the salt?
- What sort of gear ratios do they run?
- How long is the track at Speed Week?
- Is Lake Gairdner open to the public?
- How deep is the salt?
- What does the salt feel like to walk on?
- What does the salt feel like to drive on?
- Does the salt ruin the vehicles?
- What should I bring?
- Do weather conditions affect the vehicles speed?
A: Land speed racing is beautifully simple and straight forward (pun intended). Race vehicles run on a natural surface of either a dry lake bed or the salt flats, one at a time, over a timed distance.
You will see everything from 50cc motorcycles right up to 300+ mph streamliners.
On the salt flats, vehicles are timed over a "flying" mile or kilometer, according to international rules, after a two mile approach.
At the dry lakes events vehicles are timed through a 132 foot trap at the end of a 1.3 or 1.5 mile approach.
There are events conducted on roads or other paved surfaces, these are called SPRINT events and while greats speeds may be obtained over short distances this not technically land speed racing.
Entrants compete on a comparison of their timed speed to the existing class record.
A: There is no schedule, other than racing starting around 8am each day and concluding around 5-6pm each night. There is no grouping of vehicles by speed or size. Monday morning on track 2 is dedicated to Rookies to make their licensing passes, that's about it. Friday we finish at lunch time. See the program here
A: In Australia the only location is Lake Gairdner in South Australia.
In America, there is the Bonneville Salt Flats are located in Northwest Utah, ninety miles from Salt Lake City, on the border with Nevada.
El Mirage Dry Lake is about 12 miles West of Victorville, CA and 20 miles East of Lancaster, CA.
Muroc Dry Lake (now Rogers Dry Lake) is part of Edwards Air Force Base bounded by Lancaster, Rosamond and Mojave, California.
A: The salt is only used for racing once a year, usually in March as this provides the optimum conditions, dry salt, warm weather and low winds. There are many film crews that use the salt for making movies and commercials at other times during the year.
A: The DLRA, SCTA and BNI have many classes for both cars and motorcycles - because we encourage individuality and ingenuity. The specific information a competitor would need is found in either the DLRA Rule Book or the SCTA Rule Book, and some brief descriptions follow.
The slash means the engine class would be found in front of the vehicle class. The use of a "B" indicates the engine is supercharged or "blown". The use of an "F" means the vehicle is running a fuel mixture (alcohol, nitrous, etc.), rather than a "G" or racing gasoline.
This first group of classes fall under the general heading of "special construction" vehicles and they are "S", Streamliners (the wheels are covered), "L", Lakesters (the wheels are outside the body panels), Electric cars and Turbine driven vehicles.
Special construction vehicles are not allowed to use any body panels from any production vehicles, and they are the ultimate speed vehicles.
These are all "vintage" category classes - and there are "V" vintage classes within the category. Don't ask, because I don't understand it either - you need to be a real vintage aficionado to appreciate all the variations. There are also vintage classes within the Production Coupe and Sedan Category classes - you will need a rule book to appreciate the subtleties.
But basically the classes are "Modified Roadster", "Roadster", "Street Roadster" and "Oval Track".
These are the "modified" classes, encompassing vehicles which have been; 1-modified ahead of the cowling; 2- have skirts or spoilers added; 3- have been chopped or channeled. The category includes American and foreign coupes and sedans (and at Bonneville, pickups which have been modified until they no longer fit into the production category). Modified Sport vehicles are included in this category.
The Production, Production Supercharged, and Grand Touring vehicles are listed under the "Production Category". The production category is intended to represent typical transportation vehicles which might be purchased from an automobile dealer. The cars are aerodynamically stock, with stock engines.
The Mid/Mini Pickup and Production Pickup classes are new to Bonneville competition this year (in the past these classes were run only on the Dry Lakes).
The Diesel Truck classes must run commercially available diesel fuel and are becoming more popular each year. The Modified Diesel Trucks and Highway Haulers are generally allowed to run only at the salt flats.
The following information is taken from page 14 of the 2000 Rules and Records book. This is not all of the information relating to the various engine classes. If you are interested in learning more about the various engine designations.
|Ω||Engines using a thermodynamic cycle other than Otto|
|Cubic Inch Displacement|
|AA||501 cid and over (8.21 liters and over)|
|A||440 thru 500 cid (7.21 to 8.19 liters)|
|B||373 thru 439 cid (6.11 to 7.19 liters)|
|C||306 thru 372 cid (5.01 to 6.10 liters)|
|D||261 thru 305 cid (4.27 to 5.00 liters)|
|E||184 thru 260 cid (3.01 to 4.26 liters)|
|F||123 thru 183 cid (2.01 to 3.00 liters)|
|G||93 thru 122 cid (1.51 to 2.00 liters)|
|H||62 thru 92 cid (1.01 to 1.50 liters)|
|I||46 thru 61 cid (0.76 to 1.00 liter)|
|J||31 thru 45 cid ( 0.51 to 0.75 liter)|
|K||30 cid and under (0.50 liter and under)|
Motorcycle classes are broken down in three groups - engine displacement, frame class and engine class.
Engine displacement is measured in cubic centimeters from 50 cc to more than 3001 cc.
Frame classes are: Production (P) - Modified (M) - Special Construction (A) - Modified Partial Streamlining (MPS) - Special Construction Partial Streamlining (APS) - Sidecar (SC) - Sidecar Streamliner (SCS) and Streamliner (S).
Engine classes are: Production (P) - Production Push Rod (PP) - Production Supercharged (PS) - Modified engine, Gasoline (MG) - Push Rod engine, Gasoline (PG) - Vintage engine, Gasoline (VG) - Unlimited engine, Gasoline (UG), Supercharged engine, Gasoline (BG) - Supercharged Push Rod engine, Gasoline (PBG) - Supercharged Vintage engine, Gasoline (VBG) - Modified engine, Fuel (F) - Push Rod engine, Fuel (PF) - Vintage engine, Fuel (VF) - Unlimited engine, Fuel (UF) - Supercharged engine, Fuel (BF) - Supercharged Pushrod engine, Fuel (PBF) - Supercharged Vintage engine, Fuel (VBF) - Steam, Turbine or Electric (S), (Ω).
A: This is the most difficult question of all to answer. Because we are an amateur racing organization there are no cash prizes. All we can really offer record setters is a time slip, a dash plaque and a listing in the rule book.
Probably the main reason people spend their time and money and put up with the discomfort of a dry lakes event - is the accomplishment of something not easily accomplished. There is no greater challenge than setting a land speed record.
A: The membership and entry fees are probably the cheapest parts of Land Speed Racing. A membership is around $110 and entry fee is around $375. But you will need to have a good set of protective clothing; helmet, driving suit or leathers and undergarments, gloves and boots and as you increase in speed the spec for these go up as well. You could easily spend $5000 here. Then you vehicle has to have all the safety requirements as a minimum, for cars this includes roll cage, 5 point seat belts, window net, fire suppression system and on it goes. So your talking easily $5000 to $10,000 depending on how fast you want to go. For bikes it not so bad but you will need a cut-out lanyard, steering dampener, metal chain guard and metal battery holder at least, so may be $1000.
A: There are designated spectator areas at both ends of the pits for spectators, this is far enough away from the track to be safe (remember there are no barriers between you and the cars). There is also a spectators area at the start line. Spectators are expected to be fully self efficient, you will need to bring everything with you. But remember, at Lake Gairdner, we are in a National Park, and we are required to leave the site in a clean and natural condition at the end of a racing event. This includes taking your own rubbish away with you.
A: You can camp at the lakeside (Mt. Ive Camp) but must be totally self sufficent, the members camp (DLRA Camp) which is five miles from the lake ) has toilets and showers or at the station (Mt. Ive Homestead) about fifteen miles from the lake and has rooms as well camping and showers and toilets. All explained here; Accomodation at Lake Gairdner.
A: Its about a mile (1.6k) to the start line and about 2.5 mile (4k) to the pits. You could walk it, but if you don't want to drive out, you may want to consider bringing a bike or hitching a lift with somebody else.
A: To race at Lake Gairdner in the annual DLRA Speed Trials, you must be a member of the DLRA and pay an entrants fee. You don't have to belong to any other club or association. There is no affiliation with Motorsport Australia or Motorcycling Australia or any other motoring organisation in Australia.
A: Best to read, how to get to Lake Gairdner.
A: There is a small strip on the salt that is leased to Wrights Air and used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service in case of emergency evacuations. But other aircraft cannot land here. They must land at the air strip at the Mt. Ive Homestead.
A: The entire Speed Week is put on by the work of volunteers, without them we simply could not run an event. Entrants are required to nominate for at least one half day to do volunteer work. There are many others that volunteer because they love Land Speed Racing so much. There are some jobs that are very specialised and require certain skills and knowledge, but there are many more jobs where you can be just as useful. You don't have to be a member to volunteer and you will be given supervision or training as required.
A: Normal street cars can not run at Speed Week. There are a number of safety requirements such as approved roll cages, seat belts, window cage, and a fire suppression system.
Normal motorcycles can not run at Speed Week. They require a shut-off lanyard, metal chain guard, steering dampener and metal battery tray as well as a number of other safety requirements.
A: The DLRA run a graduated licensing system. You start as a rookie, usually limited to 125 mph (Category E) on track 2 and are observed controlling your vehicle and taking directions correctly. You then progress to a Category D license where you cannot exceed speeds of 149 MPH and so on. To successfully obtain your Category C 175 mph license in a car you must also be observed sucessfully using a parachute to stop.
A: Up to speeds of 150 to 175 mph normal street or racing tyres can be used depending upon the rating of the tyre. After that special Land Speed Racing tyres must be used that have a much higher speed rating and are of a very different construction to a normal tyre. They also run at much greater pressures, around 80psi.
A: Mostly very tall. There are some streamliners with a rear gear ratio of 2.30. However, there are so many different engine and transmission combos that you will find some drag race gears here too.
The common use of the very high gearing is why so many of the cars use push trucks to get off the line. They just can’t get going on their own.
A: There are 2 tracks at Speed Week. Track 1 is for high speed vehicles (>150 mph) and is 2 mile of run up, 3 timed miles and 3 mile of run off. Track 2 is for cars up to 150 mph and motorcycles up to 175 mph and is 1 mile of run up, 2 timed miles and 1 mile of run off.
A: Lake Gairdner is a National Park and is open to the public all year around, but the only time you can drive on it is during Speed Week. To access the park you must drive through Mt. Ive homestead and pay $30 for a key to open a gate on the road to the lake. During the winter the lake will be covered with water.
A: In the middle of the lake the salt can be 1.2 to 1.8 metres thick. But around the edges, very thin. Which is why we use the engineering mats to get on and off the salt. There can be soft patches, but generally the salt is extremely hard and can support the weight of large semi-trailers.
A: Crunchy in the dry parts and sticky in the wet parts.
A: In regular driving, like in a car or on a bike at highway speeds, it doesn’t feel that different from pavement. Maybe just a little looser. The drivers compare the traction to slightly sandy asphalt. The faster you go the more slippery it feels. Many drivers and riders are amazed that their speedo will show speeds 5, 10 15 mph higher than the speeds actually achieved through the timers due to this slip.
A: The salt and the dust on the drive in, most definitely. How quickly it affects the vehicles depends upon how well they are washed and maintained after Speed Week. The salt will very easily get into wiring looms and electrical components and destroy them. It is not uncommon for entrants to replace these components each year. The salt will very quickly build up in the wheel wells, mud guards and under vehicles, the best way to remove this salt is with a hose. The salt loves uncoated surfaces, thing like split pins and washers. Do not use a high pressure sprayer as it will only force the salt further into all the gaps and crevasses. You want to flush it all out. Then treat the vehicle with a solution that will neutralise's the salt. There are a number of commercial products and some home made concoctions that people use. Depending on how a competition vehicle is maintained, it may last 10 or more seasons.
A: For anyone planning to attend Speed Week, the following is a guide to help make your visit more enjoyable.
- Sunglasses and Sun Screen: There is lots of sunshine and it is reflected up off of the salt.
- Bring Shade: At least a hat. A free standing canopy, large umbrella, screen tent, or the like. Leave the plastic tent stakes at home, use tek screws and a cordless drill or roofing nails and a heavy hammer.
- Folding chairs: There are no grandstands.
- A plastic tarp for under your car and your canopy and chairs: The Salt tracks everywhere, and this will help to keep things salt free. Smooth soled shoes also help.
- Esky and water: Refreshments and food are available at the canteen or in the pits. Having a supply of drinking water is a must.
- UHF Radios: Racer and race information is broadcast UHF Ch 20. Racers and race officials communicate on UHF frequencies and channel info is available at the track. There is no public address system.
- Binoculars: Cars disappear fast!!!
- You may want to bring some alternative transportation: Bicycle, scooter, 4 wheeler (must be registered), etc. Pits can be over a kilometre long and 500 metres wide, containing hundreds of racers.
- Optional entertainment: Salt Flats Racing is not fast paced. It is a relaxing good time. Bringing a good book, todays paper, or something to keep the kids from getting bored, fills in the slow times and makes for a great day on the salt. You can take a nap or work on your tan.
- Be prepared to meet a lot of nice people, racers and spectators alike. The pits are open to spectators and the racers welcome you to look and talk. There are defined spectator areas next to the pits and at the start line.
- See Competitors Checklist or Spectators Checklist
A: The density of the air is a major consideration for any tuner looking to get the best performance from their vehicle.
For this reason many entrants prefer to run in the mornings when the air is denser. Record runs are nearly always made first thin in the morning.
The biggest hurdle for land speed records is traction. Even super high-tech cars like the record-holding Speed Demon have issues when the salt breaks up or gets too soggy.
Wind speeds and direction play a part as well. A crosswind when you’re going 300 mph is somewhat unwelcome.
If the wind picks up too much, the organizers will shut down for the day.
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