Author Archives: vonwelker

Racing – Day 3

I thought I was going to miss it today! The boys got in line and didn’t have the normal four hour wait this morning. We got to the starting line right before she made her first pass of the day. That little bug was buzzing along and got us there just in time to throw Cora into the truck and off we went. I really thought we weren’t going to make it. 

This time it all went right! She ran 165.319 which is just over the 164.9 she ran back in 2012 when we were here. Not too bad but I know we are all hoping there is more in there. Andy felt that it was still running rich and wanted to put to make some minor adjustments before making another attempt. 

Don’t let that temperature fool you. It started out overcast and was wonderful when the sun was not glaring right on you but that soon changed. It got in the low nineties with about 12% humidity which makes everything dry out. We even had zip ties on the trailer busting because they had gotten so brittle. This place is just its own beast in which things can change in an instant. In fact, they did close the courses early today due to sudden wind that picked up. They announced about 24 mph winds which doesn’t work well with an event like this. We were glad we had gotten the second run in before this started and even happier about our improved flat canopy. We saw many a pop up tent start rolling away and crews holding onto tent poles to keep them from flying. One thing we did not worry about!

After making the necessary adjustments, they got back in line again and waited a few more hours for the second run of the day. And…..she ran 165.1. Not the direction I wanted him to go! But again, there are still tweaks to be done. The time through the first mile and the two and a quarter mile were faster, it’s the overall speed that is the same. A lot of the tweaking is due to the density altitude which is the equivalent of 7,000 feet. In this environment, the hotter the day gets, the more horse power you loose. That is why it’s nice to try and get an early run in before it gets so hot. 

They’ve changed the gear set to a slightly lower ratio hoping to give it more power and pull to a faster speed. They also checked a few other things and will roll out again tomorrow morning. My thought is to just put a woman behind the wheel and I’m guessing you’d get a bit more out of her!

In reference to the quote today, is this getting to a point when you know you’ve spent too much time with the same people? I got some sort of fluid on my pants in our trailer and Steve so graciously offers, “Let me smell it, I have good sniffer.” And oddly enough, I did. The smell has yet to be identified.

And this is just because it’s great. This is the Beetle that was resurrected by Steve and the boys just for this trip to yack around in. We’ve found it extremely useful and it’s also finding itself frequently being photographed. Everyone just loves a bug!​

Racing – Day 2

Well….today was a day of mixed emotions. The boys got up early and were on the salt by 6:30, as many others are since you can start arriving at 6:00. They did what they needed to at the pit and hauled the car to the starting line which was around 9:00. We are running on what they call the “short course.” This consists of three miles under power and a two mile shut down. One other course is for rookies and the other is the “long course” which is five miles under power and a three mile shut down.

The wait was about three hours today to get to the starting line. They always have two lines ready for the same course and alternate them so there is always someone ready in the event a vehicle has issues on the line. As we were up, someone spun out on the course in front of us. This causes a delay, especially if they have to sweep the course for debris, and they did. We waited for about a half of an hour. Luckily Andy had purchased a cool shirt which is basically like wearing an air conditioned shirt. I assure you, he was much cooler than anyone else!

​All that time and she went down the track for about 30 seconds. He said it just turned off as if you would have pulled a key out. So, back to the pits for a diagnosis. This is when you can’t decide if you should be worried or wait to see what they find out. I rolled with it. I still figure it’s better than something falling apart or burning up and with two engineers, I was confident they would figure it out. And after checking a bunch of stuff I won’t bore you with, they did.

Apparently a bolt that mounts the fuel pump came loose and allowed it to disengage from what turns it. This meant the fuel was instantly shut off from getting to the engine and explained why it suddenly turned off. It even made sense to me, no fuel = no go! At this point in the day, we knew there wasn’t enough time to get in line again. It was so hot that you really didn’t want to move anyway, at least I didn’t want to. 

That was the part of the day that makes you sad since you’ve come this far and basically lost a run. But, on the other hand, we are good to go for tomorrow! The better part of the day came when we were asked to be part of a belly tank photo shoot for Roadkill magazine. Now, the tv version of this is an extreme favorite of the Welker boys so I believe it made up for the earlier part of the day. Roadkill is a YouTube show done by two guys that work for Hot Rod Magazine. They do various odd car challenges such as racing at the Salt Flats to driving cars from a junk yard across the country. They recently started their own magazine so I’m hoping this actually gets in it. They got a nice grouping of tanks together, something you just don’t see too much.

So, back in line tomorrow to see what happens and hopefully the issue has been resolved with this fix. The other good thing about today is that the honey bucket got emptied…right when Cora and I were eating lunch. Which leads me to today’s quote, “I feel like I’m chewing on poop!” And yes, momentarily, it really did.

Racing – Day 1

Today began the first day of racing, something long anticipated by so many that have come from all over the world just to race against time. To go over the goal of those that race, you don’t win any money nor do you win any prestigious awards. It becomes a drug that can only be acquired at a few choice places. Some people buy their vehicles and just race them whereas others, ourselves included, have built them from the ground up and know every inch of their vehicle. The event is not sponsored by anyone so everyone feels as though they are on the same playing field. You have everyone here from backyard builds to million dollar custom creations. Everybody just hopes that you do good no matter what kind of vehicle you are running or what class you are in. 

I have noticed again that this is definitely a mans sport. And an “older” one at that. Our small group of seven probably holds the highest majority of minorities on the salt. I’d say there are no other two year olds for sure and kids in general are even hard to come by, same as the ladies. I’m totally guessing but the average age has to be at least 65 but who else has the time and money to do this? I guess we’ll have to find something else to do by then since we are doing it at such a young age.

The morning started with a drivers meeting where they go over all the rules and regulations. Very important that all essential crew and drivers attend. They will tell you about the courses and where the cars turn off when they are done, etc. 

After the meeting, it’s time to get in line. This ended up being about a four hour wait. The cars seemed to be going out slow today, not sure why. I will say, that canopy on the trailer worked great to sit under and stay in the shade.

She got going really well and took off like she was meant to do. Now, here is the technical part I can only relay to you. Because we were running race gas for the first time, we decided to play it safe on the fuel mixture and ended up being way too rich. This means that there is too much fuel going into the engine which sacrifices power and it won’t reach the proper rpm’s. He ended up hitting 158 on the first run which isn’t horrible knowing this was kind of a test run using this new fuel. It’s an easy fix to get her back to the line tomorrow. As long as nothing broke, I’m happy with it! And Cora was happy when she heard her name being announced on the radio as part of the pit crew. I just have to laugh because the one announcer just won’t say the name of the car when it goes for a run. What’s that about?

As for my quote, I really didn’t hear anything worthy. I did have one but it wasn’t family friendly so I’ll skip it and try for two tomorrow.

Getting Geared Up

Today proved to be long and tiring even though racing doesn’t start until tomorrow. Set up continued with the addition of the newly constructed flat canopy. 

The last time we were here we had regular canopies with peaks and learned quickly why they aren’t the best. A wind stormed  arose and we didn’t know to remove the canopies. We all grabbed a pole and held on as tight as we could for quite some time. That was enough of a lesson for an engineer not to come back with that same equipment. We will remove the tarp each night like most pits do but can leave the frame in place. Which is a good thing because that’s not an easy up for sure! Not that I helped put it up but it did take them a while.

Another change this year is the towing of the car upon finishing a run. We had flat towed it behind the truck before but someone has to sit in it and it’s very slow that way. This year we added this trailer which the car will get towed around on instead. The canopy was added after we got here and will aid in keeping the car cool after each run. 

We got water for the radiator and racing fuel for in the tank. Which, at $15.00 a gallon, was the cheapest they were selling! I’m told it doesn’t have any ethanol in it and is very specialized in many other ways which I know nothing about so I won’t even pretend to try to explain it. 

The car did get started and seemed to run good. I think she’s just ready to stretch her legs again since she’s been couped up for so long.​ She sounds good!

​There is a driver meeting tomorrow morning at 9:00 and then racing will begin. As suspected, there are a lot of cars and motorcycles here so we are anticipating long lines and possibly only one run tomorrow. 

The weather is pretty warm, low to mid nineties but without any humidity which is something we aren’t used to. It’s not bad if you stay in the shade, that’s why you see so many big hats. People make their own shade. The sun is hot on your direct skin so a lot of people just wear pants and long sleeves. It just depends what you can put up with.

Sad to say I didn’t really get a great quote today since I was mostly watching a toddler. I was told that when they were assembling the canopy, there are different colored marks on them so they could match them up easily and Cale said in reference to them that,”We got them out of different spray cans!” Really???

Tech Inspection

After setting up the bare bones of our pits, we pretty much rolled out the car and flat towed it to inspection. We wanted to try to get that done today because it’s going to get crazy tomorrow. We got in a very small line around 4:30 and were one of the last ones to go through for the day. 

This tech inspection was completely different from the first time we were here. I’m guessing that since they’ve inspected it before they don’t go over it as much the next time around. After going through the various items on the check list such as all the fire safety gear you need to wear and where the fire extinguisher nozzles are aimed in the car, she passed with flying colors. If you aren’t familiar, there is a very detailed rule book that you must follow with varying rules depending upon the class of vehicle that you are running. Also, as with child safety gear, some of the safety items expire or must be re-certified to make them legal to use again. That applies to items such as seatbelts and helmets. All of this information is kept in a log book which must be presented at the time of inspection. And yes, that is a really big hat!

For the initial run he will have to keep it under 150 and then step up his license to the next level. They are very diligent about keeping to these rules and do not take kindly if you do not follow them. If you don’t, your car could be impounded, and not for a good reason!

We did have a lot of people snapping photos already today. We’ve pitted near a few different groups we’ve gotten to know over the years, one being from Reading. There were actually quite a bit of people here already today so I’m anticipating this to get pretty full, especially since they haven’t had it for two years.

Back at the hotel, the bug got to sit in with the other cool cars. It gets to be like a mini car show out front and it got to be included. Nothing like a Beetle with a car seat in it at a car show!

Made It To The Salt

A quick update as of Thursday early afternoon. We made it onto the salt without any problems. Just starting to set up our pits and hoping to get our car into line to go through tech inspection today. The bug got unloaded smoothly and it’s happy to finally be untied.

We even had our porta pot delivered already. I mean, who goes on a vacation and rents their own toilet? With two women on this trip, bet you money we were getting our own. I’ve been here before and know what these men can do to them in a few days in the hot sun. No thanks! We did get the quote already though. The porta pot guy came and asked, “Where do you want your honey bucket?” You just don’t hear that every day.

Day 4 On The Road

Today proved to be just as uneventful as the other three days of traveling. Which is a good thing! We left Laramie, WY this morning and drove another 450 miles to end up in Ogden, UT. We will be on the salt tomorrow.

We went through everything from flatlands to huge mountains. It’s amazing the different types of landscapes that can occur in a short time. Or like most of the day, it was a whole lot of nothin’. Other than the free range cattle that seem to go wherever they want to, we didn’t see much of anything. I know people like this type of landscape but I’ll stick to green trees and hills.

To those of you wondering, our two year old traveler is doing great. It’s a bit more time consuming with a toddler in tow but she is a trooper and making the best of it. I’m just glad we are finally in Utah since she has been asking the whole trip if we were in Utah yet. 

In keeping with my quotes for the day, the one I decided to go with just made me laugh. And yes, he did. Brock says, “Dude, it stinks in there.” And Cale says, “Oh,let me go smell it.”

Day 3 On The Road

We ended up staying last night in Atlantic, Iowa along historic Route 6. We were slightly off the beaten path but worth the drive. Route 6 is known for going all the way from New York to California. I am being told by my travel mates that it goes through Coudersport and Smethport in Pa and that Smethport is where the ever fun Wooly Willy children’s toy is from. I should preface that I am not fact checking anything I’m being told. Most of the things they tell me I don’t much care about anyway so if anyone has any information telling another story, feel free to correct me. I’m just so used to the useless facts that I just glaze over most of them.

Anyway, I enjoy the Iowa landscape. It has such lush, nice rolling hills. We took Route 6 from our hotel for a while to meet back up with 80. This was an excellent way to truly see the American landscape since you don’t always get to see it from the interstate.

I have to stop saying that we live in the middle of no where. We traveled almost 600 miles and most of it consisted of corn, soy beans and grazing cattle. The distance people have to go to for school or work in some of these places makes our drives laughable. I do love to see when the farm machinery is pulled up to to the house though, that’s always a funny sight. 

We ate in Pine Bluffs again this trip and tried to talk Cale into the Rocky Mountain oysters but he didn’t go for it. Not much else worth mentioning except the quote for today which is more cute than funny. From the mouth of a two year old after waking up in the truck, “Mommy, it’s a really nice day out. A really nice day to watch tv.”

Day 2 On The Road

We ended up getting to  Fremont, IN last night which put us roughly 500 miles into the trip. We’ve been on the road for quite a while today and have encountered the typical construction and bad roads that come along with any type of traveling. I have to say, Indiana, your roads are the worst so far!

For the farmers that are following, here is the crop report. It seemed like Ohio and Indiana were pretty dry and we’re doing quite a bit of irrigating. Illinois and Iowa crops are looking nice and green. Looks like they will have a good year!

We did make it to the ever impressive Iowa 80 truck stop again, a favorite among the group. This time Cale got to experience it and seeing as how he is a major big rig enthusiast, it was a big hit. If you’ve never been, you can get a shower, see a movie, get dental work done or even a haircut. This is in addition to the 900 truck parking spots it has. We tried to get Cale to shave his head since his mom wasn’t with us but he wouldn’t bite. He did pick up an old trucker movie which was enough to make him happy.

I know I talked about some of the first time we made our trip but if anyone wants to know what our dpf soot levels are or our exhaust gas temperatures are, I can fill you in. I just didn’t want to bore you with all that! On that note, imagine how I feel having to listen to it every five minutes. And to think not having Andy and Steve’s dad with this time, I thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Wrong! Brock has filled in that spot as much as one could. It’s like traveling with the people from the Big Bang Theory and I have no clue what they are talking about. Not that I want to.

We wil keep traveling through picturesque Iowa trying to make it to Nebraska tonight. We haven’t seen anything really weird to report but I’m going to try to give you a quote each day that I thought I’d never hear or say. Today it was, “Where is the bathroom? It’s over there by the hubcap sculpture.” And I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Please feel free to comment back or like our Instagram posts. We enjoy the company while we are on the road!

Speed Week 2016 – The Beginning

Well everyone, the time has finally arrived. We have left good ole’ Berrysburg, Pa to travel the roughly 2,200 miles cross country to the Bonnevile Salt Flats. I’d like to welcome everyone back that followed us on our previous adventures and also to any new friends we have aquired since then. To those of you who are not aware, we planned this trip last year but due to poor salt conditions, the entire event was cancelled as was the year before. So, I am anticipating a large group of racers that have been lacking in salt intake the past two years.

Since we have a teenager with us, we decided to also do the cool thing and opened an Instagram account. For those of you that would like to follow there, you can go to @vonwelker_racing. He will probably post more photos throughout the week than I will since they are always on their phones.

Our plans are to arrive on the salt on Thursday. I’ll try to post everyday with random sighting from across the country since it seems like everyone that follows also enjoys that part of the blog just as much as Speed Week itself. I’m just here to entertain you with my random thoughts and roadside attractions that you may never get to see for yourself. Not that you want to but where else will you learn about a town with a 60′ Jolly Green Giant?