Bonneville Salt Flats are a long way from Southern California, especially when towing an enclosed trailer, dealing with a blowout on said trailer, and stopping in Las Vegas to source the last few parts needed. That said, 14 hours after leaving Source Interlink’s Tech Center, we pulled into our hotel in Wendover on Sunday afternoon, ready for some decent sleep, knowing it’d be the calm before the storm. Custom Classic Trucks editor Ryan Manson had arrived ahead of us, and along with his dad, Gary, crewed on the car probably way more than they’d envisioned once we made it onto the salt on Monday morning.

As mentioned last month, there were still plenty of jobs left to do before the car was race ready, so once we’d set up our pit we got to work. It wasn’t long before Chris Smith, who works at Kugel Komponents, was helping, followed in short order by Jerry, Jeff, and Joe Kugel. They were there to race customer Rhett Butler’s T, but were sidelined owing to mechanical failure, and I can’t thank them enough for pitching in, or indeed Butler himself, who lent me his rear brake pads when I realized I’d left my Wilwood pads back in the shop!

Suddenly it looked like we had half a chance of actually finishing the car, as in no time the brakes and clutch were bled and working, the wheelbase was set, the fuel system was plumbed and working, all suspension and steering bolts were checked, and we had steering stops and a running engine. Which just left us requiring a hood and trans tunnel, or so I thought. I’d brought aluminum sheet with me to fabricate these, prepared to screw them to the sheetmetal if necessary.

I went off to do my rookie orientation along with Manson and my girl, who’d be my crew/recovery drivers and as such had to attend, then collect the necessary paperwork and SCTA vehicle logbook while Smith continued to fettle the car. When we returned, we towed the car down to the tech inspection area.

It didn’t take long to realize that despite us having brought a welder, compressor, and enough tools to do what was required to make the car legal, it wasn’t going to happen. I was told the fuel tank had to be completely sealed from the driver compartment, meaning fabricating a tonneau for the bed, not a job we could easily undertake (or indeed buy the material for) at Bonneville. Also, slings on the rear suspension arms were required, which I’d known about but not had time to make, though we’d brought steel cable to use temporarily, it still needed the rear shocks installed, our fire extinguisher lines weren’t in the right place or long enough (they should be aimed at the headers and oil pan area), and it needed an inertia switch in the fuel pump circuit. I also still had to fit the SFI-spec rollcage padding and would require a dished steering wheel in order to reach it with the arm restraints in place. Coupled with the fact we only had a day left before having to be back at work, we’d be down to just my girlfriend and myself by the morning, and I’d pretty much run out of funds, I reluctantly realized it wasn’t going to happen, and called it quits—though I had a plan B.

El Mirage. There was still the two-day season-wrapping meet in November, so that was the new goal. Plenty of time to fab the tonneau, trans tunnel, and hood (the last of which we showed you in the Feb. ’13 issue), mount rear shocks, and fab the suspension slings, not to mention give the car a thorough going-over to double-check everything.

November rolled around and we passed tech and the bailout test, and completed another rookie orientation (El Mirage is a different course than Bonneville, with no turnouts or mile markers and different return road etiquette depending on which Bonneville course you’re on, so procedures are different here), filled in the paperwork, and found ourselves ready to race.

I’ve got to thank Jeff Kugel, again, who acted as crew chief, as it was invaluable having someone experienced around for my first effort. My initial shakedown run netted a speed of 119.7 mph, followed by a 141.9, good enough for me to obtain my D license. Of course you know I’m going to say this, but I’m sure there was more in the car to go 150 on the next run for my C license (no really, there was!), but I’ll never know, as the meeting was finished by then. If all goes to plan, the turbo Zetec will be in place by Spring, and I’ll be learning about computers, turbos, and fuel injectors. So this concludes this chapter in the short life of the Notso Special, but like all good—and some not-so good—stories, it’s … to be continued.

Thanks to the entire Kugel family, Chris Smith, Ryan and Gary Manson, Tim Sutton, Don Lindfors, Nick Fioto, Wes Drelleshak, Saul Vargas, Steven Rupp, and the SCTA guys ’n’ gals.

While not a definitive guide to running at Bonneville or El Mirage, hopefully this has given you an idea of what is required to do so. If you need more information, or to obtain an SCTA rulebook (you don’t want to start building a car without one!) or forms, contact the SCTA at

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