The future of the famous Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week is in jeopardy after the event has been cancelled for the second consecutive year.
A thin layer of salt has caused the cancellation of the annual Bonneville Salt Flats Speed Week that was scheduled to start on August 8, 2015.
The persistent and worsening problems also spells troubles for other events on the salt flats this year and in coming years.
The cancellation may prevent Guy Martin and Triumph from attempting not only a world record, but also breaking the 400mph barrier for motorcycles. However, Triumph Motorcycles has issued a statement saying they are monitoring the situation and may return in late August.
“We are actively evaluating all options for both testing and a record run attempt in 2015 and hope to confirm our plans very shortly,” it says.
Meanwhile, Indian had announced plans to head back to the salt with a breathtakingly beautiful custom Scout called the Black Bullet to break another record.
Lesser known competitors hoping for fame included Aussie Evelyne Scholz who hoped to become the second female admitted to the exclusive Bonneville 200mph club riding a ‘naked’ bike.
This is the second consecutive year that Speed Week has been cancelled. It was axed last year after floods.
This year the problem is the thickness, length and quality of the salt crust.
In most places, the crusty salt surface is less than 5cm (2 inches) thick which is the minimum requirement for racing. The crust usually varies up to 15cm (6 inches) thick and lies on top of a dirt and water quicksand surface that prevents racing or even driving slowly across the flats.
The Southern California Timing Association also requires 6 miles (9.6km) for the vehicles to get up to speed, hit the timed traps and slow down safely. However, there isn’t a long enough stretch of 5cm-thick salt crust for racing.
They also say the salt in most other areas is too soft or rough to safely support racing.
The SCTA sent a group of racers to test the salt on July 21.
The Utah Salt Flats Racing Association cancelled a smaller Test ‘n’ Tune event recently, mainly due to rain and mud covering an area of the race course.
The association had posted informal surveys on its Facebook page asking racers whether they would attend if the number of courses or the length was reduced.
Almost 600 racers had registered, which would have made the 2015 Speed Week one of the largest in the event’s 104-year history.
Blame for the condition of the salt crust has been aimed at salt extraction industries, but scientists have not been able to provide any evidence of a long-term decline.
A scientific study on the salt crust is not due to be released until 2018, but by then there may not be enough salt left for the racing tradition to continue.
Some competitors are expected to reschedule for the October World Finals, a scaled-down version of Speed Week. However, it remains to be seen whether the salt crust will be suitable in time.