Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway
The salt flats were formed as ancient Lake Bonneville slowly evaporated and deposited concentrations of salt
onto this playa. Shorelines carved into the mountainsides are visible to the north along the Silver Island range
and extend to the Salt Lake Valley. Named after Captai B.L. Bonneville, an early military exporer of the west,
the salt flats measure over 44,000 acres and are primarily Public Land.
Historically, the flats have impeded man's movement westward. Early traders like Jedediah Smith and
John Fremont crossed the vast saline plain only to return with awesome stories of the salt's harshness. In
1846, the Donner Reed party lost animales, wagons and valuable time on the salt. These losses
contributed to their late arrival and subsequent disaster in the snowy Sierra-Nevada Mountains. The
flats' potential for racing was first recognized in 1896 by W.S. Rishel, who attempted to organize a
carriage and bike race. He convinced Ferg Johnson to test drive his Packard here in 1911. In 1914,
Teddy Tetzlaff reached 141 mph in his Blitzen Benz. Succeeding years saw many attempts to set
fast records. In 1940 Ab Jenkins set 81 new speed records in his Mormon Meteor III including
a 24-hour endurance record of 161 mph. Jet and rocket cars appeared in the 1960’s and
exceeded the 500 and 600 mph marks.
The speedway, 80 feet wide and 10 miles long, is prepared by the Bureau of Land
Management in the early summer. Speed trials are scheduled throughout the summer
and fall. They end when rains cover the area with water. Caution: Salt crust may appear
firm, but is often moist and unstable. Enjoy the area; please keep it clean.