From Dec. 13th, 2015: Notes on the PRI Show at Indianapolis

Well folks, it looks like the possibilities exist for some forward movement in the activity to get the racing going again at Bonneville.

A seminar on “Opportunities in Land Speed Racing” was offered Saturday morning at 8am.  After missing the first bus on Fridayand being late for the seminar then, we sure as hell weren’t going to be sitting there by the curb for this one.

Out there at 7, we waited.  And waited. And waited.  And Waited…..  At 25 til the hour we decided to drive it in and get there. The GPS said we would get there at 7:59 with a 6 minute walk to go after paying $30 to park.  Well, at the speed of Nick, we got there in time for the opening remarks.

The introduction was especially poignant as it said everything we knew to be true as to what is so special and different about racing at Bonneville.  The room was pretty much full and when the first speaker “Landspeed Louise” Noeth finished, everyone was shaking their heads in agreement.  It felt like a small riders meeting right there and then.

The other panelists were Stewart Gosselin, the legal liaison working with SEMA and Save the Salt to get the government and various interests to the table together.  Tom Burkland, a longtime competitor (450 mph driver) and local expert on the salt, and finally Steve Watt, a part of the Poteet and Main Speed Demon II 450+ mph streamliner.

A chance to get brought up to speed showed a pivotal time rapidly approaching.

In January it would be the chance to deal with the mining leases on public land that Intrepid Mining holds on the north side of I-80.  These leases are 3% of the total revenue of the company’s P&L.  Intrepid acquired them as part of their purchase of the previous mining interests.  One of the reasons these lease are held is a fear of a competitor getting them.  One thing that can happen is that the leases be turned back in and retired.  This opens up the conflict within the BLM (bureau of Land Management).  Their responsibilities are two-fold.  One being the maintenance of publicly owned lands for the use of the citizenry.  The other is to manage those lands to also provide revenue for the Treasury of the U.S.  They have done a better job of the second half than the first in my opinion in not only this area but others as well.

The other items are holding Intrepid to their informal promise to pump 450k tons of brine back onto the salt flats.  Now this is a tremendous amount of brine and sounds great until you realize how the system works.   Winter rains fall on the flats, dissolving the salt, and there are culverts running under I-80 that funnel the resulting brine to the south side of the Interstate into evaporation ponds.   It is then dried and the potash and magnesium chloride is harvested.  The waste salt is then left on the south side of the road.  Aerial photos show bright white spots and these are up to 5 feet thick.  Now I thought that the waste salt was just that, but that isn’t the case.  Out of 100 lbs of salt harvested, there are 1.4 lbs of potash and .8 lbs of magnesium chloride in it.  Potash in the amount of .85 lbs is removed and .20 lbs of magnesium chloride at the same time. That means that a little over 1% of the weight of the mineral is removed, the balance left lying there.  It reminds me of the buffalo slaughter on the Great Plains from trains and wagons where once mighty herds of buffalo were senselessly killed for sport or nominal trophies.  The salt lying there is analogous to the thousands of rotting buffalo corpses.

This system is aided by the culverts running under I-80.  Those need to be cut off to allow the pumped brine to remain on the salt flats.  While there is 11 inches of elevation change in the international course, there is approximately three feet of difference from the dikes to the evaporation ponds.  This encourages the pumped brine to dissolve salt and run back under the Interstate again.   The engineering is not terribly complicated, but finding the financial and political incentives to make this happen are the big challenges.

As I said, in January 2016 there will be meetings to determine the course of action.  This means write your senator and congressman to encourage them to get on the BLM and in turn encourage the BLM to do the right thing in preserving a world treasure.  Email or snail mail, just do it!  This is the best chance we will have.

My letters leave in Monday’s post!

I hope this wasn’t too much at once, but after the seminar it was damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!

See for more details!

I hope to be able to post a few photos of the PRI Indy show next week.

All the Holiday best,


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