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Author Topic: Bonneville Spectator Advice  (Read 12491 times)
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bubruins
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« on: June 17, 2014, 01:07:08 PM »

I visited Bonneville for the 1st time last year with a friend from work. He had been to Bonneville several times before that so it made things easy for me.  I thought I’d pass along some of the advice and my opinions. I know that many of the topics I’m about to mention have been covered in years past on this forum, but I thought it would be nice to have a consolidated list for people in prime “I’m thinking about flying in to Bonneville” timing this year. We flew in, rented a car in Salt Lake City, and drove to the bend in the road where we set up camp.

Things to bring from Home:

Big hat – Most people at the salt don’t wear baseball caps unless they are red, blue, or black. Pretty much everybody else is wearing something closer to what a farmer or crocodile wrangler would wear.  You want something with a big brim to keep the sun off of your face even when it is low in the morning or evening.

Lot’s of sunscreen – the sun shines bright every day and is reflected up by the salt like a mirror. Be sure to apply sunscreen to the bottom of arms, nose, and ears. If wearing shorts, apply lots of sunscreen to legs.  Women (or men, I suppose) wearing skirts beware that you might find some pink inner thighs at the end of the first day!  .  If you’re one of those people that says “I never burn, I’ll be fine”…  this will be your opportunity to join those of us who are more pigmentally challenged. 

Sunglasses:  Those $200 name brand sunglasses you packed will be worthless once you see how well the sunglasses work that are sold on the salt. I’d highly recommend spending the $20 or so earlier in the week than later. I think the name of the shack is something like “Squint Sunglasses” and it will be in the vendor area near the food.  Look at all the people who look like experienced racers… see what they are wearing.  Yep, $20 glasses.

Shoes:   a lot of people show up in flip flops… I don’t find this a good idea.  The salt sticks to EVERYTHING and will dry out your feet something terrible after a day or two.  Not to mention the fact that your feet are plopped down horizontally all day catching the suns desert rays… sunburn and salt is not a good combo!

Camera:  Inevitably you’ll see something you want to take a picture of (Whether it’s a controversial flathead ignition system or a dog in boots…). I’ll post a “lessons learned taking pictures at Bonneville” thread closer to the event date.

Chair: Bring it for camping and take it to the salt with you.  You’ll do plenty of walking as spectator cars are not allowed in the pits… but you can walk through the pits – which stretch over about three miles.  You’ll be glad you have chair to plop on between rounds of walking back and forth.

Popup Tent:  a popup makes a nice shady place to sit and “holds” your basecamp spot for viewing the racing.  The winds can get nasty on the salt at times, so if you bring a popup bring plenty of stakes and a hammer  ( the salt is slightly softer than concrete ) and bring weights and ropes to tie it down too.  If you’re leaving it unattended for a while, take the top off and tie it up.  There are chairs and tents strewn across the pits every year, and occasionally blown across the course.  Don’t be that guy! If you don’t have a good way to get a popop tent there (i.e. a local racer to is taking a trailer) then don’t worry about this. Just plan on spending more time in the econo-box rental car you got.

Tent & camping supplies: Some people sleep in their rental cars, some people spend $300+/night for hotel rooms, some bring RVs, and some people bring tents. I like the tent option the best. Be sure to bring all of the associated junk (air mattress/mat, PILLOW, etc…).  You can camp at the Bend in the Road, and another camp site just down the road for free… find your own space and set up.  There are generally Honey Buckets in these areas.  Be warned… if you camp close to the hoard… it can be quite noisy at night… and sometimes ALL night. If it rains and you are camped in the lower campground on the east side of the road, plan on not getting out easily. From what I’ve heard the dirt is like silt and turns into extremely slick mud. Camping on the west of the road on the hill is advisable for the sensible campers.

Shower/Baby Wipes:  you can get a shower at the truck stop on the corner for a couple bucks, but it can be quite a wait during busy times.  You can pass your wait time by eating at the Mexican restaurant in the truck stop… also a long wait at times.
Regardless of the shower option, bring plenty of baby wipes… salt gets in, on, and around everything and it can make your skin sting a little… especially once your first layer of sunburn sets in.  Sunscreen is sticky and it sure feels nice to take a quick baby wipe bath and get all the salt off your skin, which is now stuck in the five layers of sunscreen you have on.

Cash: Bring some cash with you so that you can pay for admission at the bend in the road, they don’t take credit and they don’t take checks. Also, cash is a fast and easy way to pay for food on the salt. If I remember correctly, most vendors didn’t do many coins for change, everything was a round dollar price or close to it.

Things to buy before leaving Salt Late City

Rental Car: Anything will work. Some people use RentAWreck because they don’t care if you drive on the salt flats. It’s a lot easier to just not tell the rental car people at the national brands that you’re going to drive the car on the salt flats. It’s best if you’re not wearing any racing apparel.

Water : Too heavy to ship, easy to throw in the trunk of a rental car. Plan on drinking 5-8 bottles of water per day per person.  I’m from the south. In the south when you sweat you know it. In the desert, apparently what happens is the heat wicks away the sweat before it has a chance to drip. Don’t get dehydrated, from what I‘ve heard it still happens to several people each year.

Salty snacks: Chips, peanuts, etc…  You are going to be sweating a lot (in hindsight, Gatorade would have been awesome).

Trash Bags & Duct Tape: Before this turns into an episode of Dexter, consider just how much money the rental car company will charge you if you bring back their car full of salt. Spend the time and money (don’t skimp on cheap duct tape!) and tape trash bags down on the floorboards and in the trunk. It’s best to get about 6” above the floor, too.  You’ll be shocked where this stuff will migrate to.

Things to buy before leaving for Home.

SCTA Rule Book: By the time you have to leave, you’ve probably already started wondering about what it would take to get your neighbor’s Alfa Romeo out of the bushes and onto the salt flats, so you may as well spend the $10 and get a rule book to start figuring it out.

Gasoline: Seriously. If you forget to buy gasoline in Wendover, you could find yourself 35 miles into nowhere with 35 miles to go and on fumes. From experience, this is particularly bad if you have a flight to catch (ever drafted a semi at 60mph with the windows up and AC off for 35 miles in 100 degree heat?).

Car Wash: We decided to drive all the way back to Salt Lake City before washing the car. That way some of the salt build up under the rental car fell off on the drive and we only had to wash the remainder (note: kick off all the big chunks of salt while you’re on the salt flats – we don’t need any more salt leaving the salt flats than there has to be). There’s also a guy with a spray gun on the salt flats but the wait can take a long time and it’s unlikely you’ll get all the salt off there anyways). We tried a couple of truck car washes on HWY 80 and they won’t wash salt off of your car… so, you’ll have to find a pay & spray style car wash (ideally with the bendy elbows on the spray guns) and spend the time to get ALL the salt out. It’s a good idea to bring a tarp/poncho or a huge trash bag to wrap yourself up in because you’re going to be lying on the ground spraying packed in salt off the bottom of the rental car for an hour.  A change of clothes and some more of those baby wipes makes for a nicer flight home after this little exercise.  I’ve heard horror stories of rental car companies charging $500+ to clean cars that have been on the salt.

EVENTS YOU SHOULD NOT MISS

Drivers meeting: This takes place on Saturday morning. I have not seen a time posted yet – hopefully someone on this forum can find it. The Drivers meeting typically takes place at the starting line of course 1. They will have course maps. The drivers meeting will also provide a lot of valuable information about what will go on during the course of the week. Note: DO NOT be the person that parks their car smack in front of the starting line after the drivers meeting and then cannot be found for over an hour. If you are that person, there’s a good chance that your car is about to get the ride of a lifetime behind a 4x4 truck.

Roadsters at the Nugget Casino: Pretty much every night of the week there will be a beautiful collection of old roadsters parked outside the nugget casino. I think that Saturday is the biggest night, but you can’t go wrong by spending some time out there and checking out all of the unique rides. Most of the cars I saw were driven there (anywhere from the east coast to CA).

Places to Remember

Salt Flats Café: Mexican food at the truck stop. Long wait and it’s always packed, but the food is good.

Enola Gay Café: Mexican food on the salt. Good food, usually have a lot of shade out. This was located by the starting line of course 2 last year.

Red Flame: We only went here for breakfast, but we did it every day. I think it’s a standard grill and they do burgers too for lunch. They also have tables and shade. This was located by the vendor area last year.

Smith’s Grocery Store: There is no Walmart in Wendover. However, there is a nice little grocery store on the west side of West Wendover. If you’re coming from the salt flats you’ll travel west, get on Wendover blvd (where all the casinos are) and pass the huge cowboy in the middle of the road. It’s immediately on the left after that. They have aloe vera.

In summary, I hope that this helps people figure out if they can make it or not. It sounds like a lot of hassles to go through, but for me it was well worth the time, energy, and money spent to get out there. It was a blast last year and I am planning on coming back from Tennessee to just spectate & crew again this year. If you have any questions, post away and I’m sure someone on this forum will know the answer.
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Seldom Seen Slim
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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2014, 01:40:02 PM »

Good stuff, and pretty comprehensive.  Here's some more stuff, too.  It's found on the "Tech & FAQ" tab at the home page:  http://www.landracing.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5&Itemid=19

Especially scroll down to see the information about first-timers - whether as a racer or a spectator.
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Jon E. Wennerberg
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2014, 03:14:56 PM »

If you are purchasing a tent for Bonneville, it may need to withstand strong winds.

Small dome tents or mountaineering tents seem to work the best.

Use plenty of stakes, it's not much fun when your tent goes missing or collapses.

When choosing a site avoid low places where water may run.

Guess how I know this,  Don   grin





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manta22
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2014, 04:06:14 PM »

Bubruins;

Your advice for Bonneville newcomers is excellent and well-written. It should be posted on the SCTA Bonneville page as far as I'm concerned-- it's that useful.

Regards, Neil  Tucson, AZ
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Regards, Neil  Tucson, AZ
Rob
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2014, 08:41:48 PM »


SCTA Rule Book: By the time you have to leave, you’ve probably already started wondering about what it would take to get your neighbor’s Alfa Romeo out of the bushes and onto the salt flats, so you may as well spend the $10 and get a rule book to start figuring it out.


Priceless!!  grin
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skywalker18
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2014, 10:47:37 PM »

Thank you for the advice!  I'll be flying into Salt Lake City (thank you AA for the flight voucher during a business trip) and camping at the Bend as you did.  I'm flying in on Thursday and leaving on Tuesday.  Not the entire week, but I'm still excited as this is my first time to the salt.     
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bubruins
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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2014, 08:43:22 AM »

Thanks for the feedback so far. I decided to post this thread in the first 5 minutes of that very long 35 minute car ride while drafting a semi last year.

Don - Excellent point about tents. Stake down everything. Just so everyone knows about the salt surface - it's extremely hard. It's not uncommon to see people screwing down tarps and canopies on the salt with lag bolts and cordless impact guns.
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« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2014, 09:01:31 AM »

I have a 3 ft wide panel that is the length of the popup that I put on the sunny side of the popup that keeps a lot of the sun & heat out. I take a bag of tie wraps with me and some cutting pliers to move it around. Don't forget the ground tarp and too secure it well or it will be gone with the wind, Tie your chairs to the popup legs so they don't take off too while youre in the pits. Some of this is in Jon's section online
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Texican
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« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2014, 01:44:53 PM »

    Regarding gas;
those that live in Utah can get gas points at Smith's.
The system can massaged when the store advertises 4X points for a limited time.

If you eat at Subway or P F Chang's {Pei wei} , buy tools and other sundries at Lowe's or Home D; you can get a reasonable discount at the Shell or Smith's.

I filled both cars Saturday and took a $.70 discount.
Many times we've been able to buy premium for about the same as reg (swamp water) in Salt ville.   
They give 5 points for bringing your own sack.
That is the equivalent of spending $5.00.
If you happen to be a businessperson, the Costco card will get you 4%
rebate.
My lady complains about the monthly bill; then in Feb. when the rebate check comes in the mail, I ask her if she thinks I should spend the effort to go gather it from the mailbox. cheers
Jim
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Seldom Seen Slim
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« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2014, 01:47:40 PM »

Jim, how about explaining how eating at Subway gives me a discount at Lowe's - and your other examples.  What'd I miss?
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Jon E. Wennerberg
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« Reply #10 on: June 18, 2014, 02:41:28 PM »

"Note: DO NOT be the person that parks their car smack in front of the starting line after the drivers meeting and then cannot be found for over an hour. If you are that person, there’s a good chance that your car is about to get the ride of a lifetime behind a 4x4 truck."

That was my worry last year.  We were in a rental RV and I was keen to view at the start line to see the bikes on course 3 and 4.  But as we got close I had no idea where it was safe to park and certainly didn't want to end up queueing in the staging area by mistake.  Back again this year so will keep an eye out where to park.
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bubruins
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« Reply #11 on: June 18, 2014, 03:45:01 PM »

I agree that it's difficult to figure out where to go at first. It would be really nice if the SCTA would put the course map up on their website before the event (even 1-2 days before the even would be great!).
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Turbo Dog
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« Reply #12 on: June 18, 2014, 05:12:46 PM »

Howdy all...this will be my first trip to Speed Week and I am looking for a pop up shade.  Do you have any brands you recommend, any colors better than others, and will the side panels help?  I have some large 12" or longer nails...If I bring a 4lb hammer will they work to stake it down?

My dog (heeler) will want to come along, she will probably spend most of the day in the back of my pickup that has a topper with screened in windows.  Any comments?
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salt27
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« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2014, 05:30:35 PM »

I use 6" nails on our 12'x12' sunshade and so far it stays put, also a large claw hammer will help with pulling the nails.

  Don
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Seldom Seen Slim
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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2014, 05:45:04 PM »

Color?  Nah, I don't think it'll make a difference.  Brand?  Well, we buy the cheap ones because the wind will probably damage them sooner or later, and the salt will corrode the metal in the upright legs.  Let those comments guide you.

We use 1/4" or 5/16" lag bolts going through fender washers into the grommets of the ground tarp, driven by the hammer drill.  We don't secure the legs for the shade/awning because we taken it down when we go to the line and for the evening.  Another reason is so we can easily move it as the sun changes location as the day goes on.  The side panels will catch lots of wind, so if you were thinking of taking advantage of the shade they'd provide -- get two of the canopies and move one around as the sun moves.  You'll get your shade that way.
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