Norwood at Bonneville...
Ferraris may be bred to run wild in the streets,
but the prancing ponies are no strangers to Bonneville. In fact, Norwood Ferraris currently hold not only the Land
Speed Record in AA-class for modified turbo-supercharged sports
cars over 500 CID, but also the land speed records in the F/GT
and F/MS classes for naturally-aspirated sports cars with 3-liter
displacement—records that have held for 15 years in spite
of numerous runs at the record by newer challengers.
In the recent past, in addition to the AA/BMS,
F/GT and F/MS records, Norwood Ferraris have at least briefly
held the D-class record for sports cars with 5.0-liter naturally-aspirated
powerplants. What’s more, other radically-pumped
and modified Ferraris have traveled to the salt to run for at
the roses without setting a record.
These include a pumped-up Norwood 308 GT4, and—perhaps
wildest of all—Bob Norwood’s 1400-horse super-modified
308 beast running a front-mounted 1400-horsepower flat-12 Ferrari
512 Boxer engine force-fed by a gigantic centrifugal locomotive
Bob Norwood also recently set four Land Speed
Records in the 1.5L and 1.0L classes for forced-induction sports
cars with a 1991 MR2 equipped with a de-stroked 20-valve Toyota
Norwood 308 GT4
Norwood 5.0L 288
Norwood Blown Flat-12 308 Speed-Record
and Drag Car
20 Valve Toyota MR2
Ferraris on the Salt: How Fast is Fast? (Salt
Enzo Ferrari is reported to have said any
car builder who worried too much about streamlining didn't know
how to build an engine—this from a car builder who DID know
how to build engines, but who also built some very streamlined
cars. This statement is probably an urban legend, but in
any case, they don't joke about streamlining at Bonneville.
Which brings us to the subject: What it takes to go very
Show of hands: Who's impressed by 200 mph? We should
be. But we're not, perhaps because 200 seems just a little
faster than 175—or 150, which plenty of fast street cars
will do—perhaps because aircraft bigger that a small herd
of Greyhound buses routinely wing along at 550-plus mph while
we yawn and read the paper and watch the distant earth slip by
below, ever so slowly. The keyword here is distant.
There are plenty of aircraft flying that can't exceed 200, and
most of those that can, do it at high altitude where the air is
thin. Civilian aircraft never exceed 250 knots below 10,000
feet. Yes, there’s the FAA-imposed speed limit, but
mainly the air is just too thick. Bottom line, 200 is a
magical number that really separates the big dogs from those that
should stay on the porch. In fact, it separates the cars
from the jets. 200 is goddamn fast in a car. There
are not many wheel-driven vehicles on earth that can exceed 200.
Aerodynamic forces become extreme as speeds exceed 120 mph, a
consequence of the fact that air resistance or drag increases
exponentially with speed. A skydiver, jumping out of a plane
at 12,000 feet, can't fall much above 180, and that's with arms
and legs tucked and diving head first toward the earth like a
platform diver; in normal cupped position with arms and legs splayed
out, Terminal Velocity is about 120.
Drag is significantly greater in ground effect (near the ground,
where you hope your car will always be operating), and lift increases
near the ground. 200 is kind of the Holy Grail of performance
car nuts: You need a ton of power, good aerodynamics (or
a god-like amount of power!), and everything else working just
right. Cars genuinely capable of 200 are genuinely worthy
of respect. A brand-new 308QV would do 154.5 out of the
box. The 348 could make 164 on a good day, the 5-valve 355
173. A Testarossa flat-12 would do 182 in its day, while
the new Ferrari 360 has been tested at 188.5. A 512TR managed
192 in the last year of the mid-engine flat-12. A stock
2.9-liter twin-turbo 288-GTO would top out at 196, while a factory-fresh
F50 will do 200. The near-F1 racer F40 could go one better,
just managing an incredible 201 mph.
to consider the following: The fastest “production”
car in the world of its time, the 512-TR, blasting along at 192,
had 200 in its sights--although, as we'll see, that last 8 mph
would take almost 70 more horsepower (see sidebar).
Quixotic about pushing the envelope in an ultra-high performance
high-tech vehicle. There's the breathless fear-enhanced
thrill of being this close to the limits of what human technology
can do. There's a kind of "out-of-body" craziness
that danger does to you, makes you more alive, or something.
On the street, there's the "I-must-be-nuts" thoughts
that go with the concept of, "What would I do if somehow
they arrest me?" Of course, they do arrest you if they
catch you going 200. And I do mean, if they catch you.
200 is above the Vne ("velocity, never-exceed") of jet-turbine
helicopters, even. When the radar gun reads "200 mph,"
what do they do? Maybe transport you immediately to the
nearest population center for a public stoning or something.
What's beyond Politically Incorrect? Politically Impaired?
People who aren’t totally nuts drive
very fast on race courses. Or on the salt.
Bonneville salt. On the Looks-and-feels-like-non-slippery-ice
surface of that thick salt crust left behind when the prehistoric
salt Lake Bonneville dried up once and for all and left behind
a world all its own where men travel to go very fast and maybe—if
they’re well-prepared, talented and lucky—go faster
than anyone ever has gone before.