Archive of 163 vernacular photographs of speed runs at Bonneville, 1960-1963

Tooele County, UT: N.p., 1960-1963. Archive of 163 vernacular photographs, including 145 in color and 18 in black-and-white, capturing the 1960-1963 National Speed Trials (commonly known as Speed Week) at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Housed in 17 yellow envelopes, with dates and names of racers written in manuscript ink annotation to the rectos.

Offered with the archive is a brand new set of the two-volume Bonneville National Speed Trials references, covering 1949-1958 and 1959-1968, respectively. The set is new and still in shrinkwrap.

In the early 1960s, wealthy California car owners began to experiment with surplus jet engines to boost the horsepower of their cars, creating distinctive, bootlegged hotrods (referred to as jet cars or jets) designed specifically for the compacted salt surface of the flats.

The photographs in the archive document many early iterations of these unusual (and profoundly dangerous) vehicles, with a particular focus on racers from Southern California, including Art Arfons' 8000-horsepower Cyclops, which set a record for an open-cockpit vehicle (342 mph) which still stands today, and Mickey Thompson's Challenger I, the first car to record a top speed of 400 mph. Also notable are several photographs of the streamliner entries of the Summers brothers in 1961, 1962, and 1963, whose streamliner Goldenrod would go on to hold the land speed record from 1965 to 1991.

As a whole the photographs are bright and well-executed, clearly shot with a racing insider's eye for detail. Photographs from the perspective of Speed Week attendees are scarce, owing to the relatively remote locale and complete absence of accommodations for spectators, making the images in the archive an uncommon, intimate record of several pivotal years in the history of hotrod racing.

Photographs 5.75 x 3.5 inches, envelopes 7.5 x 4. Some photographs with faint adhesive residue to the versos, else envelopes and photographs Near Fine overall.

Full provenance available.

[Book #151483]