Mustangs at Bonneville Speed Week
Ford launched the Mustang in April of 1964, four months later they were on the salts flats of Bonneville chasing records.
Wherever cars race you'll find Mustangs, and Speed Week, held near the Utah/Nevada border on the salt flats of Bonneville each year is no exception. In 2008 Hajek Motorsports broke the record for the fastest run in a production Mustang at Bonneville, unofficially (the run had to be duplicated to make the time official). Running on E85, Brent Hajek's FR500C Mustang hit 252.78 mph, besting the previous fastest proddy Mustang speed of 246 mph. Hajek, a corn farmer from Oklahoma, made the run with the help of Ford at a time when biofuel was all the rage. "Once the biofuel was part of the plan, they [Ford] were hooked," said the Musang's owner. Hajek—whose collection includes an NHRA Ronda '66 Ford Mustang, an ex-Parnelli Jones 1963 NASCAR Mercury Marauder, David Pearson’s 1969 Torino Talladega, and an ex-Bill Elliott record-holding 1987 Ford Thunderbird—received further support from Ford with his next project: chasing down Elliot's 1987 NASCAR record of 212.089 mph, set in qualifying at Talladega. "Brent and his team typify the high level of enthusiasm and dedication we see from a lot of our grassroots racers and private teams that campaign Ford cars and trucks in a wide variety of series every week," stated Brian Wolfe, director of Ford North American Motorsports. "Hajek Motorsports has set their focus on breaking a variety of racing records and, although they are a private team, we are glad to aid them with engineering and technical support in their quest to make motorsports history while driving a Ford."
Ford wasn't the only one assisting Hajek's record run—his driver was none other than Danny Thompson, son of the legendary speed guru Mickey Thompson. Trying to best 2008's mark two years later, Thompson, who has had his share of successes on the salt, left the ground in a Mustang at 264 mph. It's a testament to the team's attention to safety and quality construction that he wasn't hurt (even his iPhone survived unscathed) despite the fact that his car flew for nearly a quarter mile before tumbling back to earth. Check out the video here.
Of course Danny's dad Mickey was no stranger to Bonneville: in 1959 he built and drove the first car to break the 400 mph barrier. So when Ford wanted to make a mark with their new Mach 1 Mustang they drafted the man known for breaking records. In 1968 Mickey took three Holman-Moody-built Mustangs to Utah. Originally built to compete in NASCAR’s Baby Grand American Series, each car had its own purpose. A red car was meant mainly for testing, while the yellow car with its Tunnel Port 302, and the blue car fitted with a NASCAR Tunnel Port 427, were pegged to be the record breakers. A 10-mile oval was set upon which to run the yellow car in an effort to break the Class C (183-305 cu.in.) 24-hour speed record. The car retired after averaging 159.556 mph for 500 miles on their first attempt but set a new 24-hour record of 157.663 mph on its second attempt. The blue car ran the traditional straight course and ended up setting 27 Class B (305-488cu.in.) records. All told Ford, Thompson, and driver Danny Ongais wound up setting 295 separate endurance and speed records with the Mustang team.
Of course, those first Mach 1s were by no means the first Mustangs on the flats. In August 1964, only a few months after Mustangs first saw the light of day, the Mustangs saw the salt in Bonneville. Ak Miller's number 289 Mustang went after the 149.997 mph E Production record but fell short. Hot rodder Miller didn't give up though, and for the 1966 Time trials, he brought two '65 coupes. One was powered by a 221 cu.in. V-8 and ran 143 in F Production, while another, with a hi-po 289, hit 163 m.p.h. in E Production.
Twin Turbo '66
Also in the mix at Bonneville in '66 was this twin-turbocharged 289 Mustang. Entered as the E-T Mag Fastback from the Wheel Centre Company, and owned and/or driven by Dick Beith of Walnut Creek, California, it competed under the D-Gas-Supercharged Coupe classification, setting a new mark at 180.36 mph.
Stepping closer to the present day, this XETEX Texas-entered Fox body, captured for Autoweek by Murilee Martin at last year's Speed Week, topped out at 134.950 mph.
Krause’s Words of Wisdom
Perhaps the sleekest-looking Mustang in our gallery is Dennis Krause's car, pictured here in 2013 trying to beat his best of 220 mph and looking to top 240 with a mixture of nitro-methane and guts. His comments on his plan for the next day could also count as the privateer's motto: "When the motor blows we'll come home." We're looking forward to more records falling and as few motors blowing as possible when Speed Week returns to Bonneville this summer.
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