By Gary Beineke (www.71wingcars.com)
BONNEVILLE—SEPTEMBER 12, 1971:
Harry Hyde, Bobby Isaac and crew arrive at Bonneville with the #71 1969 K&K Insurance Daytona to attempt to set numerous land speed records.
September 13, 1971: The speed runs begin. During the course of that week, Bobby Isaac set numerous land speed records, including the flying mile at 216.9 MPH, many of which still stand today.
Fast forward to 2010, when Gary and Pam Beineke debuted their tribute to what was supposed to be Chrysler’s next generation wing car for NASCAR competition in the Winston Cup Series, the next generation
Charger Daytona of the Bobby Isaac K&K Daytona.
After setting land speed records over 200 MPH on the east coast (Gary at 208.4 in the AA/GCT and Pam at 205.6 in the AA/FCT classes) G&P decided to pack up the caravan and head to Bonneville for the USFRA’s World of Speed week held September 12th to 17th, 2011. Why travel 2500 miles each way to Bonneville…class?…OK, don’t strain your brain cell too much…it just so happens to be the 40th anniversary of the Bobby Isaac Bonneville record setting runs… to the day. With the intent on both G&P doing their required licensing runs, (4 each) their hope was to have enough time to match Isaac’s 216.9 flying mile record…or at a minimum, both hit 200 on the salt.
Mopar déjà vu, they arrive at Bonneville on September 12, 2011, for tech inspection. With everything in order, they take the opportunity for some photographs before the runs. One particular photo was paramount, duplicating the group shot on the salt. They took their copy of the 40-year-old picture and began scanning the horizon for those telltale mountain peaks. And there they were, right behind their pit area.
Bonneville is like no other land speed venue in the world. It is the Mecca of Speed. Driving on the Bonneville salt is similar to driving on sandy pavement or packed snow. The USFRA crew was great and offered any advice or information about the salt you wanted or needed. During the driver’s meeting they explained the characteristics of driving on the salt and what to do, and not to do, to stay out of trouble. One of which was not to go over your licensing speed, but we’ll get back to that shortly. (We’ll let you guess now whether it was Gary or Pam who got into trouble. We’ll give you a hint—at the July LTA event in Maine, Pam bested Gary with a 205.6 over his 204.7 MPH).
With a healthy respect and caution, Gary began his runs on, you guessed it, on the 13th, running a 136 in the 125-149 range. Suspecting some tire slippage, Gary upped the rpm for the next target 150-174 pass and ran 181. Having been told that if you surpass the range, the run wouldn’t count and you’d have to do it over again. The officials accepted the tire slippage explanation and let him go to the next round. Third pass in the 175-199 range netted at 189 and a required chute drop. Not knowing what the norm was for drift and tire spin on salt, Gary lined up for the over 200 run. With advice from various drivers regarding throttle input, to short shifting, to drift correction (you’ll like this one…don’t turn the wheel, just think about doing it and it will move). So with a healthy respect, Gary set out for a conservative run, short shifting each gear as to not break the tires loose. He ran through the 2-3 mile marker at 207 MPH. Well under the car’s potential.
Shortly afterward, a motorcyclist went down braking his collar bone and rib. Since no runs can be made without an ambulance on the premises, it was late enough that they called the day over. The next morning, G&P lined up early, only to watch the ambulance leaving. A crew member from one of the race teams had a heart attack and died (“Bonneville or bust!”—he obviously “busted.”) The race day was delayed until the ambulance returned.
Once getting 200 at Bonneville out of the way, Pam took over vowing to do 208. On her first licensing pass (remember, 125-149) she runs through at 156 MPH. “I’m sorry sir, but Gary said he had some tire slippage so I increased my rpm to compensate.” “Oh, alright, do your next run’” Yup, she played the blonde card! Remember this next pass was to be 150- 174? As she passed the first timing light, they announce her speed…191….and as she ran through the next light…196.9 MPH. Over the radio you heard, “Ummm, that was sup- posed to be a 150 license pass….that’s way too fast, send her back to do it again.”
Funny thing, when she got back to the starting line, she played the blonde card again… and they bought it and were letting her go for her next license. But before arriving back at the starting line and anticipating the worst, Gary suited up to take the next run. Did she do it on purpose? Upon review of the datalogger on Pam’s run, it appears she didn’t lift as she ran past the last timing light on her licensing run. According to the RPM chart, she finally lifted after eclipsing the 208 mark, yet again besting Gary’s run the previous day.
With Thursday being G&P’s last race day due to the drive time to return home, this was to be the Isaac/K&K 216.9 match run with Pam taking the last run of the day for her 200+. Running up through 1st gear was feeling good, with the 2nd shift made on the money. With the RPM rising to the shift point, there was a slight shudder and the run was over. The engine was hurt. Time to head home for an overdue teardown and rebuild.
The 40th anniversary tribute was met with people from all over the world recognizing the car and the historic meaning behind G&P bringing it out for the event. Will they be back to do the match run? Gary said, “We both got to run fast on the salt, but the cleaning up after…ah, maybe for the 50th anniversary.” Pam was heard later saying she’ll be back next year; it was way too much fun driving at 200 MPH for that length of time. “I love this car!”