Salt Shaker

Hot Rod December 1987

by John Baechtel

Gale Banks Engineering’s 1988 Pontiac Trans Am is the World’s Fastest Street Machine

By John Baechtel

On a station somewhere near the three-mile marker you see it long before you hear it. Racing across the pure white horizon, a small red dot speeds crazily toward you, pursued by a pearlescent plume of salt spray. Then, like distant thunder announcing a storm, the primal scream of a turbocharged big-block begins to build, brief interruptions signaling the gear changes before it settles into a deep, steadily increasing roar. Turbocharged cars don’t make a lot of noise, but this one delivers an unmistakable vibration through the air. Something awesome is about to happen.

The Bonneville salt flats are about as close as most of us will ever come to standing on another planet. An overwhelming sense of isolation slowly gives way to profound admiration for the pure, majestic beauty of the salt, and the geological forces that caused it. They say it’s the only place on earth where you can actually see the curvature of the earth, and it’s damn sure the only place where you’ll see a Pontiac Trans Am rip by you at speed almost beyond comprehension. The speed limit sign at Bonneville says 1000 mph, and so far there’s never been a single speeding citation handed out. But that doesn’t mean the impossible can’t happen…

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