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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.


Custom cars built to challenge the land speed record arrive at World of Speed 1992.


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 is hosting Speed Week, and, from September 10-13, World of Speed will be held by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association

Racers and spectators gather for World of Speed 1997.

Racers and spectators gather for World of Speed 1997.


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.

USFRA prepares to launch World of Speed 1998.

USFRA prepares to launch World of Speed 1998.


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  In addition to the audio-visual collection, Special Collections also holds the records of the USFRA (Accn 2304)

Written by Molly Rose Steed

1 Comment
  • Glenn Dewey
    Posted at 20:09h, 12 February Reply

    My name is Glenn Dewey. My father is Duane Dewey and he helped design, build and did original illustrations for the land speed attempt of the Flying Caduceus. I’m doing genealogical work for my family to pass on and am trying to locate any footage of the car and crew. I know there is a small clip of it at Harrahs’ Auto museum in Reno, NV but to date I haven’t been able to acquire a copy where the car sits now. I have some photos of my camera shy father but wondered if you could direct me on a more productive path. The car ran from 1959 to 62 and was financed and driven by Dr. Nathan Ostich. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

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