Tuesday, September 22, 2009

20 Sept. 2009 : First Team Healey driver to leave the USA

"Partir c'est mourir un peu":
"To leave is to die a bit"

Here bloggers can see I am rushing from the SLC to Atlanta. More than 3/4 of an hours delay coming into Atlanta with only 1 hour stopover is too tight for my health..

It was a rude shock arriving back into the my real work and home life after a week on the Bonneville salt. A week that felt surreal on many occasions.

I am confident the healeysreturntobonneville project can be closed as a very successful event for Team Healey (the name of the official entry for World of Speed) members and all participants, including the almost two hundred Austin Healey enthusiasts who attended!

Bonneville World of Speed was a week where all emotions were concentrated around two magnificent sports cars with them being the focus and everyone, team members and enthusiasts alike willing them to perform at their best and progress through the rookie speed grading process.

On the salt many new friends from all over the world were made. The mechanics worked well and thanks to hard stubborn creative thinking by the team and supporters everything came together for the required runs when the pressure was on. We greatly appreciated your support. Many enthusiasts pitched in and helped out as needed and these people will be appropriately identified at later date. Right now the team and you know who you are and we thank you for your part in making the Team Healey contribution to the success it was.

Prior to the event Bonneville weather was dry and hot but on the Monday before the event the rain came in a torrent and the runoff from the surrounding mountains turned the salt back into a lake. All this while the team were setting up the pit!

The event was almost cancelled due to the state of the salt. However, the wet weather gradually passed and the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association (USFRA) declared the event to commence after 12:00 Wednesday 17 September, a delay of a day and a half. In the event the WOS had been cancelled the team had developed a contingency plan. In the end this was not required but did provide an opportunity to demonstrate the cars to the waiting crowd.

Few realize one amazing aspect of Team Healey and that is it consisted of a small but dedicated team spread across the world with different cultures and languages. The more incredible for having pulled off an entry in an event like this with cars built in Australia

Team members had just one thing in common: a passion for Austin-Healeys.

What is remarkable looking at the teams experience on the salt in 2009 is the number of similarities with the 1954 record breaking. While some of these were deliberately set up by the team, most were created on the spot or arose just by coincidence which was uncanny.

In taking this journey the team has realized once more just how talented the team Donald Healey had around him when he attempted record breaking on the salt at Bonneville.

We take our hats off to them.

While the event and rules could not have been more different from 1954 in the eyes of the Team Healey it was always intended as a tribute to them. For many years we have all been looking at the pictures and video of the mountains on the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Now we have seen them with all our senses. What was the most remarkable thing is that we added another dimension to pictures and the visual aspect. Colour and Music!!

The fortunate few hundred enthusiasts who were at Bonneville witnessed the highs and lows of emotion as the event unfolded. We are confident that much of this will have been captured by a specialized photo and video crew who travelled with the team. We will now concentrate on working hard to provide a glimpse into the emotions of the event for Austin Healey enthusiasts around the world.

The cars will now briefly retire for a well deserved check over and adjustment incorporating the lessons learnt from the World of Speed. The other thing both cars have received is a well deserved bath, with more to come to ensure the harmful effect of the salt is minimised.

The Endurance car is on its journey to its home to be in Switzerland and the Streamliner is on its way back to Australia.

Will there be a sequel of this event? As in movies there is no such thing as the original. A second version of it could only be realized by the same dedication and passion as in the project that created the cars for 2009.

Streamliners were not built to run on the street and only by substantial financial investment they can be replicated. Without making it into a commercial event this may be difficult to realize.

Who knows – passion has a way of making things come true?

They have a saying in Bonneville that you need to be careful as once you ran, the salt gets into your blood!!!
Time will tell. One thing is for sure: the Healeysreturntobonneville Club has been formed and will be networked further! As a way of facilitating this network consideration will now be given to setting up an FTP-server where everyone can upload their photographs and video footage from the salt.

It would be nice to receive a picture of everyone who was there with their names and so that brief details (club and locale) could be provided in this “Family Album”.

Bruno Verstraete (edited by Joe Jarick).

(Pictures by Joe Jarick and Bruno Verstraete)
Sunday 20 September 2009,
Somewhere in the air between Atlanta and New York

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