Being a gearhead, there are two basic rules; the louder and faster, the better, and....better to participate than to watch.

Lynn and I were on our way back to the bay area, and were discussing crewing for Papi at the Bonneville World Finals....a day or two with some long driving stretches, and changed plans made this wonderful diversion possible.

Being on the salt at Bonneville, as part of a crew, is the only way to go. Complete access granted by the red "crew" wristband, and being introduced by Papi...who seems to know frickin' everyone - was the Gearhead E-Ticket without the lines.

If you've never heard of Bonneville, it's about 125 miles west of Salt Lake City, and just to the right of the Nevada border. What's there? Frickin' nothing but flat salt for a long damn way. If you've ever wanted to see the curvature of the earth, you could hitch a ride on the space shuttle, or you could go to Bonneville.

A few times a year, a bunch of lunatics take what they are working on - just short of firing themselves out of a howitzer - travel to the salt flats and see how damn fast they can go. for some of these's not that fast. No offense to the woman riding the 60's BMW 500cc stocker....or the Ozzie riding the turbocharged Buell Blast.....but there were people laying it on the line to become the fastest pilot of a vehicle on the salt. the amount of money was staggering. You look into the 40's chevy lined up and you see a distillery's worth of billet aluminum plumbing feeding a v-8 with a roar that would make Thor say "oooohhhhh, yeah, BABY!"

You'd also see a streamlined airplane without wings, motivated by wheels, painted by Chip Foose, with a cockpit that would make Captain Kirk envious. Billet, composites, flashy paint jobs, 50's buicks out of bare steel with mods that would impress Jesse James. This is the place to be. The gamut ran from beautiful sexy machines to cobbled, dented, rattle-can painted machines that were mechanically as good as they could be made.

Our friend Papi is one of those guys; willing to put his money where his mouth is, exercise considerable riding talent, and attempt to do things damn few people have done - go a real 200 mph. The world is full of people who woulda/coulda/shoulda/wanted ta....but never did. The people who stop talking, make a commitment, and follow through are few and far between; Lynn and I were crewing for Papi and his crew Chief Dennis. Two such people.

Riding on salt....isn't like riding on asphalt. It isn't like riding on gravel roads. The wet salt stuck to my boots like gritty mud. Think about riding 200 mph on that. Without brakes. With over 200 hp.

Needless to say, Lynn and I had a ball. We stood within feet of ground pounding streamliners taking off. We chatted with the starters. We poked our heads into cars, ogled bikes, chatted with owners, builders, drivers, pilots, and were immersed in the FAMILY that is the Land Speed Racing community. For that, a simple thank you could never repay the charming hospitality shown to us by Papi, his Crew Chief Dennis, and the organizers and participants in this religion.

Instead of watching from the sidelines, we were changing sprockets, wiping salt from various parts of a ZX-14, helping prep it for runs, getting it to the line, driving down the line to pick up Papi and his bike after his speed runs, making more changes to the bike, more wiping down, more inspections......what a frickin' blast. Not the most relaxing way to spend almost a week...but far better than sitting on a beach and far more rewarding.

We busted our asses and were rewarded with an experience like no other.