Cleared for Takeoff.

Bonneville Diary: Day 1

Talk about cutting it close: technical inspection closed at 5 pm today, and the lead scrutineer signed off on our last bit of wayward safety wire at 4:58 pm. We have our blessed tech approval sticker in-hand and are now cleared for takeoff.

[Instead of starting tomorrow at the end of the tech line, we’re ready to begin running as soon as the Bonneville Speedway opens for business.

I arrived at the salt flats around noon and found the Lightning prototype in an advanced state of undress. Richard, ZZ and Jeff were scrambling to complete last minute preparations, “minor” details like drilling and mounting the fairings, safety wiring lots of bolts, fabricating steering stops, and—oh, yeah—making numbers from tape, since proper vinyl numbers were left in California. To be fair, it wasn’t all their fault—they found out just that morning that the dustbin fairing they intended to run was illegal, necessitating a switch to back-up Ducati bodywork. Welcome to racing! We stayed busy—we even put my father to work, exploiting his construction experience to ventilate the tailsection with a hole saw—but we finished with minutes to spare, leaving a bevy of satisfied tech inspectors in our wake.

We’ve still got plenty to do tomorrow—sponsor graphics need to be applied, and since I’ve never raced at Bonneville before, I need to complete my rookie orientation and make my orientation runs. But the first major hurdle—getting an all-new and untested vehicle approved for competition—has been cleared. If all goes according to plan, we should be running in anger by tomorrow afternoon, slowly turning up the volts in search of more speed. The salt is on our side—veterans here are calling it the best in years—and the weather forecast is favorable, clear with calm winds.

But first there are more pressing concerns, namely dinner. We’re headed for the AYCE “Rainforest Buffet,” located inside the Technicolor nightmare that is West Wendover’s Rainbow Casino. Multiple people have told us it’s the best food option available, which has me worried since we’ve got 3 more days here…