Engineering of a Bonneville Land Speed Record Streamliner 2004-01-3524
Speed trials have been conducted on the Bonneville Salt Flats for more than 50 years. In many ways, land speed racing represents the ultimate in freedom, ingenuity and creativity for engineers and constructors. Most of the rules associated with the various classes (and there are literally hundreds of classes) are safety-related, while the rules associated with the design and construction of the vehicle itself are extremely free, with streamliner and lakester classes being the most uninhibited of all. This freedom of design leads to widely disparate attempts to solve the Bonneville riddle. To successfully race at Bonneville requires the engineer to possess expertise in a number of aspects of vehicle design and construction rarely seen in other forms of racing competition.
We begin with an overview of the nature of land speed racing competition, and continue to a discussion of the engineering aspects and fundamental requirements of car design and behavior. Choice of class, acceleration and horsepower requirements, characteristics of the salt surface itself, issues of braking, and handling and vehicle layout all play a part in success at Bonneville, and are discussed in the present work. Example vehicles are used to illustrate the above issues.