Let’s lay one thing down. Bonneville is hot. Hot, hot, hot!
The most comfortable part of the day here in Western Utah is early, early morning. And given that everyone was keen to get out the salt, get set-up and get going, the word on the ‘Motel 6 street’ – Motel 6 is pretty much where most of the racers stay - was that the line for the ‘get-in’ for set-up and scrutineering was going to start before ‘sun-up.’
And there was no way of keeping Phil and Miki in their beds anyway with the salt within their reach, and their mission to Bonneville already in flow. Leaving the motel in the pitch black - the only lights were the sparkles of the nearby casinos -we cruised out to the speedway. Tail lights glowed as we got near to the ‘boat ramp’ and an orange line began to glow on the horizon.
We stepped out of the Jeep to immediately meet, and feel super welcomed by, every single person in the line. With an air of reverence, people from all across the States, and beyond, watched for the slow sunrise making its appearance, and for the gates to open. And coffee, Bloody Marys and all manner of offers of tools and help, and anything needed, came from all angles. It was immediately obvious that the Bonneville community is one of the warmest anywhere on a racing circuit.
As the sun rolled up, gate registration took place and then the gates were declared open and we rode out off the ‘boat ramp’ and drove onto the cherished salt for the first time.
Various riders had paid an extra £100 to register a day early so various part of the pits and team camps were already set up, alongside the tech and management areas. As the sun continued to rise, we found our spot right on the edge of the tracks, on the carpet of endless white and got the set-up going.
We lucked out with our random picking of the spot next to the Edwards Racing crew! Simon Edwards, his brother David and mate Howard, headed to Bonneville a number of years ago, with nothing but a tarp for cover and protection. Everyone looked after them, and now they repay the karma – in spades – every year, helping Rookies like ourselves, find their Bonnie feet.
The next nerve wracking part of the process was scrutineering – which was a long and very hot line, but both guys got through thorough checks with flying colours. It always pays to religiously study the rule book, know your category inside out and these guys had most certainly done that.
Then came one of the most useful elements from a racing perspective: a Rookie course induction and tour. Driving out along the actual course, seeing the markers and flags and understanding the system would pay immediate benefits once the team hit the flats for real.