Utah earmarks $5M to help save Bonneville Salt Flats

The Bonneville Salt Flats, the home of high-speed runs in the United States for decades, isn’t exactly in tip-top shape. Years of salt mining has left the salt flats to degrade and turn muddy.

There’s hope on the horizon though, as Road & Track reported Wednesday that Utah has appropriated $5 million to help save the Salt Flats. The figure is a small, but a much-needed injection of money to help rehab the speedway. That money is contingent on another $45-million commitment from other sources to restore the track over a 10-year period. According to the report, Congress will need to tip in some of the $45 million, including money from the Bureau of Land Management, as well as from private donors.

Famously, the raceway’s “Speed Week” event was canceled in both 2014 and 2015 because the surface was too wet and slushy to run cars. Remember, the cars that show up to the salt flats are ready to go hundreds of miles an hour. For example, last year, the world’s fastest wheel-driven car cracked a top speed of 503 mph on the salt. A modified Volkswagen Jetta was also able to clock a 210 mph top speed and set a new class record in the process. Mud and muck are highly desirable conditions for top-speed runs.

The restoration process won’t be quick or simple. Experts say the Bonneville Salt Flats will actually need salt pumped back into it to restore the conditions. It will also eventually expand the track back to its 13-mile-long strip. Today, due to the degradation, it’s only eight miles long.

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