Video: 1951 Bonneville National Speed Trials

Bonneville nats 1951Short but sweet, here’s a priceless moment in hot rodding history: newsreel coverage of the third annual National Speed Trials on the Bonneville Salt Flats. 



By 1951, the hot rodding fraternity’s third annual pilgrimage to Bonneville, the enterprise was gaining some momentum. The event even managed to draw a newsreel crew from Universal International, which recorded the segment we see here.

The clip features a number of noteworthy pioneer hot rods (see how many you can spot) but the star of the show is the Kenz and Leslie 777 streamliner from Denver, Colorado. Powered by a pair of full-race flathead Ford V8s, the 777 set a whole series of speed marks in the 1950s, and it was eventually fitted with a third Ford V8 and topped 270 mph before it was finally retired in 1957. Unfortunately, the U-I news crew got driver Willie Young’s name wrong, referring to him as Willie Jones. That slip aside, the clip captures a priceless moment in hot rodding history. Enjoy.