Kiwi team breaks class land speed record at Bonneville

Kiwi team breaks class land speed record at Bonneville

Kiwi race team CMR Motorsport has returned home from the Bonneville Salt Flats in the States with a new world land speed record. Long-time race driver Reg Cook and his crew from Clevedon in South Auckland, built a car specifically to run at the Bonneville National Speed Week event last month in an effort to break the current 2.0 litre production car body record.

The class CMR competed in is officially called the G/Pro for production bodied cars running a 2.0-litre engine. The previous record was set by a Chevrolet Cosworth Vega in 2009 and stood at 156 mph (249.6 km/hr).

Cook has been a Nissan enthusiast for many years, and chose a 1990 Nissan 2.0 NX using a stock SR20 twin cam 4 valve engine as a base. The rules allow for extensive modifications to the engine and suspension but the outside body work had to remain nearly standard.

Helped by a team of up to 20 people from the Cook Motor Racing Adventures crew, the car was stripped and built to the strict regulations governing the class. In particular, the rules relating to safety – roll cages, on-board fire extinguishers, wheel rims, safety belts, and even a parachute to assist stopping – were all carefully studied and incorporated into the build.

The car was finally finished the night before it was to go into a container to be shipped to Los Angeles. A quick drive from the workshop to the letterbox was the only testing prior to loading.

The first of two detailed technical inspections by the organisers was done in Los Angeles before the team of Reg Cook, Peter Merrie, Sarah Stewart, Louise Cook, David Lunny, Barry Clark, and Paul Mc Cartney arrived to transport the car to Bonneville in Utah, an 1100km drive away. The final srutineering inspection at Bonneville was completed and the car was ready for its first run on the salt flats.

With temperatures hovering in the high thirties and the event scheduled to run for a week, it was to be a test of physical and mental endurance for the team as well as of car performance. With over six hundred competitors and around 4000 crew members it was also a challenge to just find your way around. The pit area alone stretched for over a mile in length.

After completing Rookie orientation (none of the team had taken part in the Bonneville event before) the car was lined up for its first run. An understandably extremely nervous team as the car  had never been driven in anger before.  Cook  was waved away by the starter and at the end of the 3 mile mark the car had achieved a remarkable 169mph average  (269 km/hr).

Cook was amazed how well the car had performed straight out of the box and the way the Parachute stopped the car. He didn’t use the brakes at all to stop.

To qualify as an official record another run over the same course had to be completed the next morning. The average of the two runs would stand as the new record. At 8.00am the next day the car ran again and this time got to 169 mph for an average and new record of 168 mph.

Setting a new record was already achieved but the team set out to push their record even higher. After more runs the team’s average was increased to 181 mph (290 kph) with their highest top speed of 187 mph (300 Kph).

By the end of the event, they had set a new Bonneville and world land speed 2 pass record of 174.525 mph (279.2 km/hr).

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