Monday, December 19, 2011

Bonneville / A Case Study in Experimentation

The salt has called many a driver, and in 1966 it was Tom Bruch's turn with his 1956, 356 Porsche Speedster. However, this was a return trip after the previous year there with a VW, he had obviously caught the "Bonneville bug." It seems that once a driver touches the salt, he's destined to find his way back one way or another and why not, the Speedster was a more aerodynamic shape.

Back in those days drivers experimented without the aid of computers with engine modifications, such as "scrapers" to pull the oil off the cranks, cams, head designs as well as other engine tweaks, and including body aerodynamics. It was a giant test lab and still is today.

"You are trying to get the most out of whatever cc's you are playing with, but it's not just the engines and have to look at the whole system, which includes aerodynamics, gearing, and even the weather."- Tom Bruch

Dick Koenig did a wonderful interview with Tom that was published through the excellent  "356 Registry" in 2001 along with photos from, Carter Kudrle and Mark Bouljon. It's a great read about the ingenuity that Bonneville competitors are up for. You can find the full story by clicking here.

The Bonneville crew; L to R, Dr. John Dickinson, Tom Bruch, Carter Kudrle and Howard "Bud" Jackson with the Speedster in 1966 sporting Goodyear "Blue Streak" tires.

Tom Bruch's Speedster on it's first record run at Bonneville on August 22, 1966.

Tom and the crew waiting for a return run. Notice the EMPI "Inch Pincher" VW in the background. Incidentally that same year the VW had been fitted with a supercharger on a 1600cc engine that produced 220hp. With that combination the car recorded it's best dragstrip time of 12.7 secs. / 106 mph at Carlsbad Raceway north of San Diego.

Bonneville impound area. Notice the Glaspar removable hardtop for better aerodynamics.

There's always work to be done on the salt.

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