Bonneville SpeedWeek 2023: August Showers Bring Motor Power

Jonathan D. Mallory, Public Affairs Specialist

By Jonathan D. Mallory, Public Affairs Specialist

Every year, speed enthusiasts from around the world gather on the vast salt flats of Wendover, Utah, to push the limits of human engineering and velocity. Bonneville SpeedWeek is a legendary event that combines adrenaline-fueled racing with the preservation efforts of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In 2023, the event is poised to be bigger and better than ever, as racers unite to break records, test their mettle, and showcase the collaborative efforts that render this thrilling event possible.

A boat on the water

Description automatically generated with medium confidence A picture containing sky, outdoor, snow

Description automatically generated

Figure 1: Vehicle in water on the Salt Flats. Figure 2: Racer and team next to their vehicle during SpeedWeek 2023.

The Bonneville Salt Flats, a striking expanse of gleaming white salt crust, have stood as a mecca for speed aficionados since the early 20th century. The unique geological features of the flats create an ideal surface for high-speed racing, attracting daredevils with a passion for innovation and velocity. This natural wonder spans about 30,000 acres and serves as the canvas for the epic SpeedWeek races.

A picture containing sky, outdoor, day

Description automatically generated  A picture containing sky, outdoor, transport

Description automatically generated  A person on a motorcycle after racing down the Bonneville SpeedWeek Salt Track

Figure 3: Compilation of racers and trophies during SpeedWeek 2023.

Bonneville SpeedWeek traces its origins back to the early 1900s when racers commenced setting land speed records on the flats. Since then, the event has evolved into a week-long festival of speed that welcomes racers from various disciplines: cars, motorcycles, and even experimental vehicles. SpeedWeek is not only about breaking records; it is also a celebration of engineering prowess, creativity, and the pursuit of the ultimate rush.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plays a crucial role in ensuring the success and sustainability of Bonneville SpeedWeek. The BLM is responsible for managing the federal land where the event takes place, ensuring that racing activities do not harm the delicate salt flats ecosystem. With a delicate balance between permitting high-speed endeavors and safeguarding the environment, the BLM acts as a steward of both the land and the event.

The success of Bonneville SpeedWeek hinges on the collaboration between racing enthusiasts and the BLM. Organizers work closely with the BLM to secure permits, establish safety guidelines, and implement environmental protection measures. This partnership showcases how motorsports and environmental conservation can coexist harmoniously, with the shared goal of ensuring that future generations can continue to relish the thrill of racing on the salt flats.

A picture containing outdoor, water, lake, nature

Description automatically generated  A group of people on bicycles on a beach

Description automatically generated with medium confidence  A picture containing sky, outdoor, water, beach

Description automatically generated

Figure 4: Vehicles in water on the flats from rain the previous week.

The 2023 edition of Bonneville SpeedWeek promised to be a landmark event. The week got off to a rough start with rain showers that inundated the salt flats. Nevertheless, the organizers maintained a positive outlook and navigated around the obstacles, enabling the first races to commence on Aug. 8th on a 5-mile stretch of predominantly dry salt. The weather held, and progressively more of the track dried out, permitting greater distances to be achieved.

Racers from across the globe converged to challenge existing records and establish new ones, pushing the limits of their machines and their own courage. The event showcased exhibitions featuring vintage racing vehicles, a testament to the rich history that underlies this adrenaline-fueled gathering.

A picture containing sky, outdoor, water, mountain

Description automatically generated  A person riding a motorcycle

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Figure 5: Racers at the ready during SpeedWeek 2023.

Bonneville SpeedWeek 2023 is not merely a high-speed extravaganza; it is a celebration of human ingenuity, collaboration, and the intricate dance between speed and conservation. The Bureau of Land Management's role in preserving the salt flats while allowing racers to pursue their dreams demonstrates how responsible stewardship can yield remarkable results. As engines roar and records tumble, let's recall that events like these can motivate us to discover innovative ways to coexist with and protect the natural wonders that make our world extraordinary.