Following decades of degradation, Bonneville International Raceway received an injection of cash it deserved – and desperately needed. The State Legislature of Utah appropriated $5 Million to restore the Salt Flats as part of the State’s budget. “Speed Week”, Bonneville Raceway’s marquee event, was cancelled in consecutive years (2014-15) by The Southern California Timing Association, who govern the event.
Conditions during Speed Week had turned muddy, wet and slushy (not an ideal surface for ripping up to 500 mph), the result of salt erosion from mining operations. The restoration effort will require salt to be pumped back onto the flats, expanding the current length of the raceway from eight miles back to the strip’s original 13 miles.
The cash influx is a small-but-sweet victory for the racers at Bonneville. The project is ultimately contingent on an additional $45 Million commitment from outside sources to fund the 10-year restoration. U.S. Congress and the Bureau of Land Management must appropriate the bulk of the funds, while the rest will come from Bonneville’s racing community and other sources.
Bonneville is a mecca for speed freaks, a geographic treasure, and an American institution; so much so, the Salt Flats are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Bonneville restoration sits at an interesting crossroads, where the health of the environment is essential to the home of speed, with both environmentalists and gearheads pushing to secure funding.
We wish both parties luck, for everyone’s sake.
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