Aug 17, 2016 Glimpse a World of Speed in Archival Videos
For the past century, the Bonneville Salt Flats west of the Great Salt Lake have been a popular destination for thrill seekers, mechanics, and engineers determined to test the maximum speed of their motor vehicle or even break a land speed record. Formed by the evaporation of the prehistoric Lake Bonneville, which once covered most of the Great Basin, the Salt Flats offer vast tracts of uninterrupted flat land – the former lake bed – covered in salt and other minerals once dissolved in the waters of the lake.
Each summer and fall, speed enthusiasts gather at Bonneville Speedway near Wendover, Utah, to test their vehicles against the clock. This week in August, the Southern California Timing Association http://www.scta-bni.org is hosting Speed Week, and, from September 10-13, World of Speed will be held by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association https://saltflats.com.
The Audio-Visual Archive in Special Collections holds many collections related to racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats, but the largest is A0910, the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA). This collection of 68 videocassettes chronicles the World of Speed event from 1989-2000, and includes footage of numerous similar events from that time – including Speed Week and other time trials – as well as videos of older events. The collection features not only the trials and races themselves but also explanations of the technologies involved in building the vehicles and the personal stories of USFRA members. All 68 videos have been digitized and are available to view on DVD in the Special Collections Reading Room.
Although no finding aid is currently available, an informal register of the collection can be obtained by contacting the Moving Image and Sound Archivists at SPCreference@lists.utah.edu. In addition to the audio-visual collection, Special Collections also holds the records of the USFRA (Accn 2304) http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv10513/.
Written by Molly Rose Steed