Bookshelf: Bonneville–A Century of Speed

Bonneville A Century of SpeedThis beautiful new book by David Fetherston tells the hundred-year history of land-speed record racing at Bonneville. 



Because this is generally how we roll around here, we’re going to deal you the executive summary first. If your interest in cars in any way includes hot rodding or Bonneville racing, buy this book. You’ll thank yourself for doing so. Repeatedly.

Over 12 inches by 9 inches in size, with over 300 pages and more than 600 illustrations, Bonneville–A Century of Speed easily qualifies for coffee-table book status, except that it’s far more meaty than that label usually suggests. Writer David Fetherston, sharing a byline with veteran Bonneville racer Ron Main, has packed every page with a dense array of key facts and stats to tell the century-old tale of racing on the salt. And a fascinating story it is.


Ford and Napier


If you’re a fan of early hot rodding and straight-line racing, you’ll find some of the historic photos on these pages familiar, almost like old friends, while many others have seldom been seen before, if ever. Either way, you’ll spend hour upon hour poring over all the great images, which date from some very early record attempts in 1899, to the first recorded speed runs at Bonneville in 1914, to a full report on the most recent Speed Week in 2013.

The photo, page, and print quality are all first-rate,  too—sparkling clean, crystal clear. To support the ambitious endeavor, the book does contain advertising. However, the ads are all thematically appropriate, much in the manner an Indy 500 program or the great old British racing annuals. Frankly, because that’s what reviewers do, we tried our best to find things to dislike about Bonneville–A Century of Speed, but we came up short. Sorry. It’s simply a fine piece of work.




Now here is where we tell you the really good part. Bonneville–A Century of Speed is not just a great book. It’s for a great cause. Sale proceeds go to Save the Salt,  the nonprofit organization on a mission to preserve the Bonneville Salt Flats as a priceless natural resource and promote its motorsports legacy.

As you probably know, the salt is in trouble. Short-sighted humans have reduced the ancient flats from over 90,000 acres to 19,000 acres, and the salt bed from four feet in depth to one inch in places. Save the Salt is fighting to arrest and reverse the damage.

You can learn more about Save the Salt, check out an online preview of the book, and purchase your own copy here at the book’s dedicated website. The price is $49.95. As we see it, that’s the deal of the century.

Bonneville–A Century of Speed by Ron Main and David Fetherson; David Fetherson Publishing LLC; © 2013.

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