Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What A Long Strange Trip This Has Been, And It Is Not Over Yet!

It all started on Mar 11th. Those that follow my blog might remember the circumstances. I went to Woodinville with a rented UHaul car dolly to get a "free" 1990 Ford Bronco II. It would not run and the owner was frustrated and just wanted to get rid of it. I loaded it on the dolly and was checking the tie downs when I tripped over the tongue of the dolly and fell on the pavement. Because of the fall, I broke my hip.
The cars previous owner took me to the Bellevue Group Health Urgent Care. They confirmed the fracture in my femur and scheduled me for surgery within a couple of hours. The surgeon elected to perform a "hip pinning" operation where after setting the displaced fracture, he would put screws through the fracture to hold it together. He wanted to do this instead of replacing the joint because I am "young" and active and would do better with my own hip joint. There were some risks that it would not heal properly or the blood supply could be disrupted resulting in the femur head dying. As early as two months after surgery, the surgeon told me that the xrays were "concerning" to him. The fracture zone appeared to be collapsing, the screws were pushed out into my thigh and I had lost nearly 3/4 inch of leg length. I also had trouble putting weight on it. After a couple more months and more degradation, we mutually decided to proceed with a hip replacement. 
So today, my journey takes me here for a total hip replacement surgery. This will be my home for a couple of nights and then my sister will take me to my parents home for a couple of days. I am not really looking forward to this. But hopefully this will relieve the pain and discomfort that I have and hopefully  I can walk soon without a crutch. My legs should once more be the same length. Most of what I read and here from others leads me to believe that I should be back on my feet soon and that I should be able to resume my usual activities.
 The saga continues!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bonneville World of Speed

I have always wanted to go to Bonneville Salts Flats to watch cars trying to set world speed records. My friend Jim suggested that we go this year for Speed Week that is run the first part of August. Two things happened to cancel those plans. First, I fell and broke my hip in March. With the slow recovery, I did not think I could be in shape to go. Then the lake bed did not dry out enough and Speed Week was rescheduled for the end of September. About a month ago, Jim said that another speed event event was happening September 6th to 9th and he was able to reserve a hotel room. Did I want to go? I am still on one crutch and was apprehensive about the 850 mile drive each way and all the walking we would do, but I was antsy to get out and do something this summer, so sure, I would go. This event is a smaller meet called the World of Speed and sponsored by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association. It is a smaller affair with about 175 cars and motorcycles instead of the nearly 500 at Speed Week.

We left late in the evening on Thursday and after driving all night, arrived in Wendover Utah on Friday afternoon. After checking in to the hotel, we headed out to the salt flats. I was under the impression that it was a somewhat long drive to the salt flats, but it was only a few miles. We wandered through the pits and checked out the layout of the course. It was fun to look at the various cars that were trying to set records or just find out how fast they can go. Some records are less than 100 mph or can be as high as 400 mph. It all depends what class your vehicle fits in. 

Racing started saturday morning. We drove down the course to just beyond the three mile mark. This is where most of the cars were achieving their fastest speeds. We set up a canopy to provide shade, had chairs to sit in and the car radio tuned to continuous coverage of who was racing and what their speeds were. 

The whole race course is immense. The course is 8 miles long. You cannot see the start and could usually see a racer after they passed the two mile markers and that was with binoculars. The racing was intense. The speeds of some cars went as high as 419 MPH. It was hard to focus when they flew by us. There were accidents. A few cars spun out and one spun and flip causing a long delay to clean up the debris. A couple of motorcycle riders were injured on the short course. For four days, we set on the salt and watched cars go by, it never got old!

Our hotel was in Wendover, Utah. But there was no place to eat there. So we would drive up the street about 1/2 mile, cross a white line o the street and find ourselves in West Wendover Nevada. The only restaurants were in the Casinos where we usually grazed on the buffets. 

We headed home on Wednesday and after another full day of driving, we arrived home late Wednesday evening. We are already starting to plan for next year. 

 Northern Nevada is pretty desolate.
 Driving down the hill toward West Wendover, you can see the Bonneville Salt flats in the distance and see how massive they are.
We have arrived.
Turbinator II being serviced in the pits.
 Turbinator II. It holds the record of 458 MPH for wheel driven turbine powered vehicles.
 A steam powered streamliner. Unfortunately, they spun and flipped on their first run.
 This attractive A class streamliner ran over 300 MPH and set a new record.
 Joint Venture is a Unlimited Diesel Truck. It has a V16 Detroit Diesel engine with four turbo chargers as well as two super chargers and puts out more than 4000 HP.
 Joint Venture is an Unlimited Diesel Truck. It holds records of  228.8 MPH. When it would make its run, the first thing we could see was a big plume of black smoke.
 This is a streamliner, side car, motorcycle. It is taken apart while going through technical inspection. This motorcycle was previously owned by a co-worker who set several records.
 The drivers meeting.
 The salt would stick to the tires and pack under the fender wells. We brought a lot of it home.
 A roadster getting ready for a tow back to the pits following a run.
 Challenger II being hauled back to the pits after a first run of 390 MPH. The next day they qualified for a new record at 419 MPH. Unfortunately, they could not back it up the following day. This car was built by the legendary Mickey Thompson in 1968. It made one run and because of adverse conditions, did not run again and was put into storage. A few years ago(after Mickeys death), his son Danny brought it out of storage, updated it and replaced the two iron Ford engines with two big fuel injected hemi racing engines that put out about 2000 HP each. Including the three runs this year at World of Speed, this car has only made five runs down the course, since 1968.
 Challenger II in the pits.
  Challenger II in the pits
Challenger II on the trailer heading home.
 Our spectator camp at about mile 3-1/2.  
 Each morning and evening, we drove across a rough patch of  flooded potholes and standing water. This is not just salt water, this is concentrated brine.
 Brigham Young University brought a electric streamliner that set a record of 204 MPH.
 Another roadster heading to the pits after a run.
 The spectator area near the timing slip trailer. It was pretty lonely out there sometimes.
 Got Salt was a streamliner that ran over 300 MPH but did not set any records.

West Wendover on the Nevada side of the border is a glitzy casino town. Wendover on the Utah side of the borders had hotels and not much more.