Category Archives: Speed Week 2016

The Finish Line

It is time to put an end to this trip which began almost three weeks ago. Our 2016 adventure to Bonneville will not easily be forgotten. Each of us will take away our own perspective of the trip as anyone does when they go anywhere. This is just a huge endeavor that most people I know don’t quite understand. It takes months to prepare for and isn’t really anywhere anyone would “vacation”. I agree! 

By the end of this trip we will have traveled through 13 states, gone over 5,000 miles, reached a height of over 10,000 feet, stayed in ten different hotels, killed one billion bugs with our trucks and averaged just over 10 miles to the gallon. One truck used roughly 540 gallons of fuel so it’s a good thing the price was down right now. And yes, that’s the crappy mileage you get pulling a 9′ high trailer behind you. Seems like we could just cut that down to save on all that drag since the belly tank is not quite 4′ tall? Just a thought.

We weren’t sure how this trip would go having a two year old with us. I have to say, she probably did the best out of all of us. She’s upset we aren’t staying in anymore hotels and traveled better than I could ever have expected. Luckily, she is a Welker at heart and the loud cars didn’t bother her and she liked driving around in the bug. Who would have thought? I do believe she is going to have withdrawal from not seeing her cousins Caley and Brockey as she has started to call them. I think it may go the other way as well. 

The last quote does go to Cora for this trip. When putting in a new dvd for her, I disconnected the charging cable momentarily and she told me, “I will hold it and I promise, I will not put it in my nose.” Ah, from the mouths of babes. I was happy to hear that.

I want to thank everyone for following along, whether it’s your first time or you have continued from before. We really only started this for family so we didn’t have to make a lot of calls with updates how the car was running. We found out when we got home the last time that it grew quite a bit larger than just family that was interested. People I didn’t even know came up to us saying they had followed along. I appreciate all the nice comments in regard to the writing as well. Like I said before, I don’t know much about the cars but I can try to make you feel like you are there.

Thanks again. This is all done from Andy’s desire for speed. Deep down, a lot of people have their own inner desire, he is just lucky enough to have been able to see it come to fruition and experience driving at 168.8 mph. Pretty cool!

Please check back for updates. As we get home and have time after cleaning everything, we will post more photos and videos.

(Feel free to hit us up for t-shirts, we still have a bunch to sell)

Time to Head Home

After yesterday’s adventure into the middle of what seemed liked an endless ocean of corn, we can’t top it so it’s time to head home. This trip has been riddled by small incidents, today was not immune. Andy always has an eye on the trailer tires and we pulled off at a rest stop when he noticed one looked funny. This resulted in the changing of not one but three trailer tires with cracks in them. They had not blown and still held air but they swapped them out to be on the safe side. Funny thing though, the one he saw with the small bubble was still okay, go figure.

We are just hammer down at this point but did stop in LeClaire, Iowa again at the American Pickers store. They have built a new building since we last visited. Nothing really special but a quick stop to stretch legs.

Other than that, just covering a lot of roads. Which, America, are pretty awful! And we always say PA roads are bad. I can’t say they are any worse than anyone else’s and we covered A LOT of roads on this trip. 

I did want to mention I was pretty bummed yesterday when I realized I missed this event.

I would have loved to have stopped and eaten some Minnesota corn at the Buttered Corn Days. I’m just trying to picture how this all works. Do you all sit and eat with big tubs of butter on the tables or do they have butter wenches that come around when you need some? This sign just makes you see that every area has something, whether it’s a corn festival, demo derby or a tractor pull. We all have local events that come around every year that remind you of home, no matter how dumb they are! (Look how happy those girls are with their corn)

The quote I have to go with today may not be exact but you’ll get the point. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel for supper, first one we’ve seen for days believe it or not. In reference to the store part, they sell Moxie in it. Steve wanted to get one for the boys to taste it but they wanted to know what it tastes like. Steve’s reply was, “It tastes like sweat filtered through an old dirty sock.” If you’ve had Moxie before, you’ll know that sounds about right!

Let’s bring home a …

Monday took us from Sioux Falls, SD on a detour to Hector, MN. Why Hector you ask, what could possibly be there? Well it turns out that on the Saturday before we left Steve won an online auction for a Fordson tractor in Hector, so off we go. 

Now as many of you may know, most Welker adventures come with a catch. This time the catch was we did not have trailer space to haul home a tractor that is assembled. So what is the solution?  Why tear it apart on the spot and stuff the pieces into all available spaces.

The Bug is now stuffed with luggage, Steve’s truck is full of wheels and small parts, and the engine and rear housing are in front of the Bug on the trailer. Just took some creative packing. 

A short drive got us to Albert Lea where we stayed for the night. Not much else interesting to report other than seeing this in the hotel parking lot. 

Can’t really explain it. Just a truck and trailer with some kind of stuffed animal sculpture? You just never know what you’ll find. 

From Yellowstone to the Badlands

Leaving the Salt Flats we decided to head north for our trip home. We wanted to get a different view of the country because none of us had ever been in this area before. Saturday morning we woke in West Yellowstone, Montana. When we arrived the night before, the temperature was 32 degrees, slightly different than what we were in that morning. This was a quaint little town which was nice to walk around in for a bit that is right at the west entrance to the park. So, off we were to see a few trees, something we hadn’t seen for a while.

We did get to see some bison and deer. One bison was even walking down the road with a long line of cars behind him. It was odd that people weren’t beeping at him or making rude hand gestures like you normally see with slow drivers!

We stopped to see Old Faithful, with about 1,000 other people. Sorry to say, this did not impress me at all. I’m not sure I knew what to expect but now I know. Very touristy which is always a turn off to me.

We had some white knuckle driving late at night coming down some rather large mountains to stay in Buffalo, WY. Pronghorn and deer decide they like to stand right along the road a lot in these areas so we had to keep a good eye out as well. 

Sunday got us back on the road to go see “the heads”, as Cora kept saying. Off to see Mount Rushmore. Again, the town right before you enter the national park was major tourist throw up. It’s unbelievable what pops up at these type of landmarks but the people were filing in. Here to, neat to see once but I thought it would have been bigger. More intrigued watching the people taking selfies with the presidents behind them.

We kept trucking through the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. Not much to see except a lot of free range cattle all over the place. Still wondering how you know where to find your own? In this day and age, do they have gps trackers? Made it to Sioux Falls for the night and will update you tomorrow on the next great American landmark we come across.

Or to tell you about the tractor we have to pick up. Yes, you read that correctly. Can’t wait to see how that turns out myself!

The Other Guys

Believe it or not, there were other cars attending Speed Week. When you have your own vehicle, it becomes quite a task to find time to socialize. Usually the only time you really do it is when you are in line waiting to run. Plus all they want to do is talk about cars and I find myself lacking in that area. 

Today has been another long day so I don’t have the energy to ramble on as usual. So here are a bunch of pics to show you what else you may find at Speed Week, it’s pretty much anything!

Not exactly sure about the speed on the Moho above. We think it ran in the range of 120. First time for us to see a motor home take a run on the salt, who knew they could do that?

Speed Week Is Over

The end of the road, or should I say, the salt, has finally arrived. With ten runs under his belt, the week was pretty successful. To many, a trip like this is crazy, myself included. But, to each his own. This may not be your thing and whatever you are into may not be as extreme, but to have a passion about anything is a good thing. There are many that do this every year without fail and will tell you that the salt calls to them as if taunting them to see if they can conquer it just a little bit more. I still call it crazy but, like I said, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. 

The Blonde Bitch faired well on her second trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Other than the few minor issues previously mentioned, she’s coming home pretty unscathed. This cannot be said about a lot of other cars at the meet. Standing at my pit I could probably point out a half of a dozen cars around us that basically broke. Anything from a melted piston to a cracked cylinder head sent them home early or at least stopped them from racing. So if you look at things from that perspective, taking a car home in one piece is pretty good. We had even heard that some racers stopped racing on the long course simply because they didn’t like the way the salt was and how their car was reacting to it. I imagine if I spun out doing 150+, I’d think twice as well. Probably a smart decision to sit it out if that was happening. 

Today was a day of packing and cleaning as much salt off of things as we could. We learned from the last trip what to do. The belly tank got a quick wipe down and the truck and trailer went to the car wash. It’s amazing how hard the salt gets after getting caked on. The inside of the truck also got vacuumed the best it could. After the last trip, any salt began to turn into a gooey mess as we headed east as the humidity rose. Don’t worry, it will take me weeks to clean up this mess but we at least got the bulk of it cleaned up, and yes, this is way worse than the beach. Nothing like vacuuming on your vacation!

For those of you not following Instagram, the first day we received our Honey Bucket, I had a good laugh while in there. Not that I don’t always enjoy a good laugh while in the porta pot. There was a sticker on the wall to enter a Honey Bucket selfie contest. You could win a Honey Bucket or $1,000. Now, I don’t know about you but who couldn’t use their own portable toilet. But how do you split that if we would all win? Darn, I guess we would have to take the money. We didn’t forget, here is our entry. Note the driver on the seat!

So, we leave the flats and are heading north to go through Yellowstone. Please leave more comments, we do enjoy them while we are away from home. I just think at this point we need a vacation from this vacation. 

I do have a good quote for you today. As we were all discussing how the dry air is effecting us, it was mentioned that our nails are splitting, lips are cracking, etc. (sounds pleasant, I know) And then Steve chimes in, “My feet look like a nine year old Amish girls.” Most of you where I live will not need any explanation for that one so I will leave it at that!

Racing – Day 6

Today was a make it or break it day! There were still a few things in the Welker bag of tricks to pull out to see if anything would make a difference. And like other projects before this, the go to solution is…duct tape. Sure, why not? We’ve seen a lot of red neck ideas amongst the million dollar ones. What’s to say one is better than the other? 

This car is so aerodynamic to start with, it’s hard to add to that feature. They started by taping up any holes that may be causing drag and then cut some foam board and taped it completely over between the tank and the back axle. Yes, that black triangle just gives it that new and improved look I believe Andy was going for. At this point, give it a shot, it can’t hurt!

And the result is…..

168.895 – You’ve got to be kidding me! I know I kept saying that over and over. $10 worth of duct tape did more for this car this week than anything else did. Really all it tells me is that now we have to go home and make more modifications to the back of the car to get rid of all the drag that is apparently happening. That is what I see! And if you read the slip, this was going into a 6 mph headwind. He thinks he was doing roughly 173 when exiting but that doesn’t count for time. 

At this point of Speed Week, the racers are quickly exiting and the lines are really small. Since this run went well, Andy decided to try another one but running on the long course. They now combine all cars to one but he can only run the same short distance. Back to the pit to freshen up the duct tape and add a bit of a tail behind the axle and see it that does anything. 

We flat towed to the line this time hoping to push a bit quicker without having the trailer behind the truck. We basically got the car ready and got to the line right away. When we picked him up after his run, he noted why so many drivers had issues on that course. He said he was all over the course, the grooves in the salt tend to take you where they want to sometimes. They actually moved the long course this week due to issues and had a bunch of cars spin out on it. All due to the salt conditions. With all this, and a head wind, she still ran a 164.0. Not too bad considering the car, and the driver, is still in one piece!

He was thinking of doing another run tomorrow but after seeing how this course was, I think we will be smart and stop now. We can take her home in tact and be glad nothing went wrong. And all I’ll have to hear about is that she needs a bigger engine. Not that I haven’t heard it before. I’ll have to start a GoFundMe page to see if there are any suckers, er, I mean, sponsors that would like to donate any money to the cause. 

So, for today, we started to pack up and will finish tomorrow. I did keep forgetting to show my mode of transportation in the pits. The last time we were here I realized how big the pit area was. A lot of people bring four wheelers, bicycles or something so you aren’t walking. I had seen a motorized bicycle and thought it was pretty cool so this came in handy for checking things out this week. And it’s just really cool!​ No reason Andy should have ALL the fun.

​As for my quote, I’m not sure if it was today or yesterday since they have all run together at this point. I just remember looking at Cora and saying, “Stop licking your feet.” Can’t even imagine how salty they tasted but I guess it’s better that they were at least her own?

Racing – Day 5

Today was roughly the same schedule as yesterday. The morning line seemed a bit longer and it was around noon until he actually got to run. The modifications were slight this time, changing only the  gear set back to the fastest set so far, just trying to find that right combination that might get that extra power needed to give her some more horses under the hood. This time she ran 163.297. Still hanging around the same spot as the other runs but not coming up with anything special to make a big difference. So, back to the pits for some more tweaking.

I wanted to go over Andy’s safety equipment that he either wears or has on board. Most of which is required in the class that he runs, he added a bit to make himself feel more comfortable. He wears fireproof underwear, socks, what looks like long johns, a head sock and then his quilted pants and jacket. He also has a HANS device, this is worn behind your neck to protect your spine and keep you head from moving around too much. He also has special shoes, gloves and helmet. The car has two on board fire extinguishers, one with nozzles pointing on the engine the other with nozzles on the driver. There is a knob to pull above the steering wheel if they are needed. All of this is extremely important to have on board and I hope it never ever gets used. I’d rather it just looks nicer than ever getting tested out!

Back to today, the second run resulted in roughly the same outcome. The only change this time around was the fuel mixture. This run was 164.531 into a 6 mph headwind so we just can’t seem to catch a break. Where is the tail wind? And again, it was just so hot, everyone was starting to feel the effects. If you stand still for too long you start to feel as though you are burning, even through your clothing sometimes. It’s really pleasant, I recommend it to everyone!

As for the salt, if you haven’t read anything about it before, it’s not what you would expect. They have to groom any courses that are being raced on and the areas that the racers should use such as a pull off from the course. Any return roads, pits and areas you are okay to drive in, is groomed, otherwise, it looks like this.

This year it’s like little balls formed on top and yes, it’s hard. It is cold and moist to the touch. Not at all what you would expect. When it splatters on the vehicles, it dries very hard like this.

Yes, that is the running board of our truck. Imagine what the inside looks like. It just gets drug everywhere and will take forever to fully clean out of everything. 

The quote for today goes to Andy as he was opening a bag of Middlesworth BBQ chips we had brought with us. “It smells like home.” And those of you that live where I do will fully agree to that.

I would like to make a request that since tomorrow is our last day of racing that those that are following please reply to one of my posts. I am very curious to know who is following out there. I can see how many people but I can’t see who you are. We really appreciate all the support so a quick little comment with your name and city is all I’m asking for just so we can get an idea who is following. Thanks in advance.

Racing – Day 4

And so today, we did miss the first run. The boys went out early again and got in a much shorter line this morning. Things started to thin out today and will quickly do so tomorrow until Friday. Many teams don’t stay the whole time, a lot blow up engines or simply break things that can’t be fixed in the middle of a dry salt lake. Some just come to set records and leave as soon as they do, it really varies, especially depending how far you’ve come. If you’ve come a long way, such as us, you stick it out until the end and make good use of the time that will be forthcoming. Either way, I’m hoping the three hour lines are long gone.

The first run for today came in at 165.397. I feel like he’s trying to win a prize for the most runs with the closest times, if so, we are in the running for it. It was another clean run but as with so many of the other teams, it’s a head scratcher trying to come up with a solution to make it go faster. They’ve talked to many other teams that have run identical to what they have here now or even more horse power than what they have previously and they are ending up going slower. The thought is that the rolling resistance of the salt is different this time which is holding them back. Based on this theory, we may never know this year is she will go any faster but we’ll keep trying.

For the second run of the day, Andy decided to switch back to regular pump gas to see if it would make any difference. It worked okay before and he wanted to see if that would change the outcome in our favor this time. And the time was…..164.837. So, no. No difference to the pump gas from that expensive race gas! I told Cale we should take it home and use it in his pulling tractor and see how well it works. He might be the fastest one around!

By the time we were done with the second run, the short course we were on had no line and you could hot lap if your car was ready. That’s how it will start to get tomorrow as well and they will also shut down the rookie course. The heat is just taking a toll on everyone. Our pit neighbor didn’t even bother after his morning run. He said he really underestimated how hot, hot really was. It’s in the nineties with low humidity but so many days of it is taking a toll on the vehicles and the crew. 

On that note, what do you do with a toddler on the salt? I’d have to say this was probably a first at Speed Week. Why not, we brought everything else! I certainly think she’s been having a good time with everyone. 

As for the quote of the day, I am seeing a trend starting. Anytime a vehicle is started, someone should be inside in case something would happen. Brock has been hopping in the tank when this needs to be done. Apparently he got in it today, “Man, it really stinks in here. Oh, wait, I think that’s me.” I told you it was hot!

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!​