Weather and Wind At the Bonneville Salt Flats

Day 2 at the 2017 Bonneville Motorcycle Speed Trials with GP photographer Andrew Wheeler.

Buell Brothers and Sisters Ashley Woodford
Ashley Woodford on her Buell.Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

Did you know, that when you’re on the Bonneville Salt Flats you can actually see the curvature of the earth? It’s an amazing place. Dangerous, beautiful, harsh…and then there are those moments where there’s not a peep from anything remotely connected to anything mechanical. It’s peaceful and then suddenly you’ll see bugs, big bugs, and strange ants running around.

The weather can change very fast. Plus you can watch it happen real time. Day 2 of the Bonneville Motorcycle Speeds Trials was an example. As skies began to darken, the lightning flashed overhead.

Danielle Cote
Danielle Cote, Crazy Cumin Racin'Andrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

Standing upright at 5 feet 10 inches made me the the highest object on the Flats. This made me nervous.

Life on the Salt is harsh.

Options for photography on this second day were rather limited, simply because of the course. There are no corners, no pit lane, and the service road crunches like hard packed snow when you drive over it. There’s no shade, and the heat was intense.

Rogers Racing BSA
Steve Rogers, Rogers Racing BSAAndrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

Photographers need clearance before driving to some locations to shoot.

That said, everyone is friendly, communal and it feels wonderful.

Benelli scooter
Malossi Benelli 50cc ScooterAndrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto
Two-stroke
Two-stroke café racer in the RWB classAndrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto
Run What Ya Brung
Classic RWB (Run Whatcha Brung) entry on the SaltAndrew Wheeler, AutoMotoPhoto

It’s easy to shoot from the access road, with the mountains behind you. If you want to shoot from the control tower side on the other side of the track, you need to obtain an extra pass. Not difficult, but they’re not handed out like candy either. Which makes sense. People get disorientated, very easily.

I waited all day for the streamliner class to take to the track. As luck would have it, technical issues and crosswinds made sure it didn’t happen. So for Day 2 it was the RWB class. That’s Run Whatcha Brung.