This is another great story sent to me by Brian Schaub, who is part of the Arizona hot rod crew that I've mentioned in previous stories here and on the podcast. Brian and his friends are NOT afraid to drive their cars. Another example of this fact can be found in the first article Brian sent in a while back, which you can read here: A Snowy Hot Rod Adventure

You can listen to this story on the Iron and Steele Podcast, here:

Blast at Bonneville - Spotify


Building a car we can drive and the adventures we have is the true reward….if it's not fun why have it? With Bonneville coming up I think of each memorable visit but one in particular stands out.

Part One: Getting There.

July 2020… A Summer unlike any other. The Pandemic was in full effect, international travel was completely shut down and the open road was calling. Typically, if you haven't reserved a hotel room for Bonneville Speed Week by January, you’d either be camping at the Bend in the Road or just staying home. It was just a couple of weeks before Speedweek and just for Shits & Giggles, I thought I’d check and see if there were any rooms available. To my pleasant surprise, there were many and at very affordable rates! All the travel restrictions from Europe, mask mandates and general Covid related chaos had really cut into the amount of people who had planned on attending the event. I messaged Melanie (Hot Rod RSB) Terrance & Johnny and we quickly booked rooms and started packing our bags.

Hitting the Road! We met up just before dawn at a gas station in Wickenburg. Afterall, we had a long way to go… and a short time to get there! Wendover/Bonneville is well over 700 miles from Phoenix and we’d be losing an hour because Utah is in a different time zone (half of the year) . We don't celebrate daylight savings in Arizona, LOL. First stop was, Nothing, Arizona. Yep, the name is pretty accurate. An abandoned town it’s now basically a glorified roadside pull off, an old radio tower, some dilapidated buildings and a sign that indicates that you are in Nothing. Good spot to stretch the legs and empty the bladder.  

Nothing to see here….

Brian Schaub on Instagram

We continued Northwest on Highway 93, which would take us through Kingman and then on to Las Vegas. Just after we passed the Hoover Dam crossing we made our way up the final grade before entering Henderson, NV. I noticed a few small droplets of coolant on the windshield of our Roadster that appeared to be coming from my overflow bottle. It seemed acceptable considering we’d just driven up a pretty decent sized hill and it was starting to get pretty warm out. Well, it was not coming from the overflow, it was coming from a hole in the lower radiator hose… and started to shower Extremely HOT coolant on me and Samantha in our completely open top Roadster.

Luckily the first exit off the freeway had a gas station, and even better,  it had several DIY car wash stalls, all equipped with large drains on the ground. As soon as we pulled into the first stall, Terrance opened the bed on his RPU, which somehow contains the entire inventory of an O’Rielly or Autozone… No Joke, it's amazing what he has in there for spare parts and tools, but that's for another story! He quickly produced the correct hose and began trimming it to fit the spacing on my motor. As he did that, I removed the failed hose and did my best to not get scorched by the “Still Very Hot” coolant remaining in the radiator. I was grateful for the floor drains! Someone had left a few bucks on the carwash sprayer so I used it to replace the lost coolant. At that point our group of Roadsters parked in a car wash stall had begun to attract the attention of one of the gas station attendants, fortunately by that time we had the hose secured, the Radiator filled with “Spot Free Rinse” and we were back on the road in less than 10 minutes.

Once we made our way through morning traffic in Vegas, we continued North highway 93 through the vast nothingness of Southern Nevada. We stopped for gas and grabbed some snacks, there was no time for sit down meals and sightseeing, we still had some serious ground to cover before the day was done. That happened to be the last gas station for 150 miles, now that might not sound that much by modern car fuel efficiency standards, but in a gas hungry V8 Roadster with a 12 gallon tank… it's a whole new level of stress! With a light foot and our fingers crossed, we made it into Ely, Nevada on fumes and a prayer. After nearly 13 hours on the Road, Our skin reddened by the Desert Sun and our Ears Deafened by the sound of open headers, we pushed on. We were now on the last stretch and as we made our way down the last hill into Wendover, the sun began to set on a remarkable day, we were tired but ready for the next day!

Part Two: The Salt.

Saturday Morning

We made our way out on the Salt and cruised around the pits for a while, there was a fraction of the normal crowd and hardly any vendors. Terrance picked up a pair of 34’ Ford truck doors from some guy named Jake from Iron&Steele (he's got articles & cool shirts online you should check out) and proceeded to haul them all day while flying around on the salt. Because why not? That's what trucks are for right? 

What a different experience it was with so few people there! Sorry for so many that worked so hard & weren’t able to make it but for those who could it was surreal! After running the cars pretty far out on the salt, we were able to just roll right up to the start to park & watch. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience.

We lost Johnny mid day, he disappeared and headed back to Wendover to rinse off his coupe. Shiny paint causes stress. It was a fun day, the salt was pristine. We wrapped up the day with the roadsters & people covered in salt and grinning from ear to ear. Followed by dinner at Salt Flats Cafe where average Joe hotrodders like us can eat dinner next to the Racers we were watching earlier in the day.

Part Three: The Hot Ride Home…Loud Pipes Save Relationships.

It was a three day turn & burn for us so after a fun day on the salt we had to head home Sunday. On the way we checked out a few abandoned buildings & had a late breakfast in Ely.

After breakfast,  the inevitable reality set in, we were in for a scorcher of a drive. On the way up Friday, we were able to avoid the serious heat as we made our way to higher elevations as the day progressed. It would be quite the opposite on the way home, the further south we drove, the hotter it got!

Remember that 150 mile stretch without a Gas Station? Well, we went through fuel faster than expected and the E on the gas gauge seemed to be screaming at us for miles. It felt like the needle was pegged on empty forever. Visions of running out of gas in the middle of nowhere during the midday heat developed into a real pressure cooker situation. Thank God for loud pipes, we couldn't hear each other that much, but I heard enough to know Samantha, who normally enjoys the drives as much as I do, was using every word in her colorful vocabulary to express her disapproval of the present situation. Those open lakes pipes saved us from killing each other that day and we rolled into the Sinclair station without a drop of gas to spare.

The face masks that were required for entering stores, were now soaked with water in a feeble attempt to cool ourselves down. It helped momentarily but there was no escaping the blazing sun and the intense engine heat coming up through the wood floors of the Roadster. It’s difficult to explain what it's like driving a primitive style Roadster in 110+ degree temperatures. The closest thing I can describe it as “like driving a hot stove into a blast furnace”. The temperature in the car is at least 15 degrees hotter than the outside temperature. I have literally had empty plastic water bottles melt to the steel package tray behind the seats.

From there we pulled into Las Vegas and stopped at Frankie's Tiki Room, unfortunately Covid restrictions hit again and they were closed. As we considered options in the parking lot next door we almost leaned on a guardrail with a big, nasty, pile of shit on it…I shit you not…shit on a rail. Logistically,I’m not even sure how it was possible. Vegas man, you couldn't make this shit up! That was our queue to move on. Vegas freeways can be a battle zone & in a Hot Rod the local drivers really kept us on our toes. We had several close calls, and got to use some universally recognized hand symbols.

My kingpin bushings had been wearing out for a while and one of my tie rod ends was starting to fail, which made for some pretty loose steering characteristics on the way home. The excessively rough road conditions caused a short in my tail lights. Just after nightfall we stopped for gas and I was able to repurpose the reflective tape on the steel posts at the gas pump as improvised Marker Lights.

We made it safely back home to Phoenix later that night, sun burned, ears ringing and exhausted, we were already making plans for the next run. Driving them, getting there & back is part of the adventure. Long road trips and hard miles can be taxing on both car and driver. Mechanical failures and roadside repairs are a part of the game… it's how you respond to the challenges that defines the outcome of the journey. Looking forward to Bonneville again this year!

PSA the salt is at risk, if you haven’t already consider checking out the non-profit organization Save the Salt




Christina G Lenz

What an amazing adventure!

Ted Eminowicz

Great story… I know these people… They drive their “rods”, everywhere… A great group of people… I follow their adventures on FB & IG… They are living a hot rodders dream… Keep it up… 😎

Gary At Cornhusker

Great story, Good times with friends. Been to the salt twice and enjoyed it both times. I was lucky enough to obtain a pit pass both times which allowed some leeway as to where I was allowed to drive. Learned the story was true about putting sunscreen on your privates if your wearing shorts. I can relate to the anxiety over gas, 11 gal tank in a deuce doesn’t go very far. Getting ready to leave Wendover I started with the at that time worthless car wash at the west end of town which I swear was recycling saltwater. then on to P town for the Good Guys show then home where my 32 spent one day on jack stands with the lawn sprinkler under it. Long trip from eastern NE but each time it was fun. I need to do it again.

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