GM and So-Cal Speed Shop first teamed up in 2003 on a Saturn Red Line coupe that grabbed the G/BFALT record with 212.684 mph performance. This dynamic duo followed up that first foray onto the salt with a banner 2004 effort.
Ecotec engines took down class records in G/BGL (179.381 mph), G/BFR (210.881 mph), G/BFS (309.607 mph) and G/BGS (290.567 mph). Also of note was our cover car, the GM Performance Division/So-Cal Speed Shop Chevrolet Cobalt SS Bonneville Speedster, which generated an unofficial top speed of 243.127 mph in a demonstration run. Because there were no production versions of the Cobalt released at the time of the pass no official record was established.
The Players For 2005
The 2005 Speed Week would see a four-pronged attack on the salt. The weapons of choice include the aforementioned Cobalt Bonneville Speedster, a radically chopped and stretched 2006 Chevrolet HHR in the G/BFCC class (G Class/Blown Fuel Competition Coupe; current record 226.835 mph), a So-Cal built belly tank lakester powered by a supercharged Ecotec will be shooting at a benchmark it set last year in G/BGL (179.381 mph) and lastly, GM partnered with four female college interns and California Street Rods to build a new 2005 Cobalt slated to run in G/GALT (G Class/Gas Altered) in an attempt to break the class record that stands at 160.103 mph.
Game On At Speed Week 2005
Right out of the gate the Cobalt SS Bonneville Speedster was a tough cookie; disintegrating a spark plug at 190-plus mph on its first pass meant there was work to be done in the pits. Datalogging showed that the rough course caused the Cobalt to catch air and the resulting over-revving of the engine may have been a culprit in the hardship. Bonneville cars are not engineered like drag cars with engine removal as part of the design. There are no removeable noses, no quick-change engine mounts, it's all guts, no glory on the salt.
The GM crew busted some serious ass and had the Cobalt ready to roll on Tuesday. The car's vengefulness persisted and the second bullet suffered from oil starvation issues and popped a rod out the front of the block. Totally unfazed the crew moved to the first engine and planned a complete teardown and rebuild. They had more than a day to get the car ready for time trials. When we left for California, fresh pistons were being loaded up but Mother Nature threw down yet another gauntlet; rain that caused the cancellation of the event.
The lakester crew had an easier time of it. The belly tank speed demon ran 193 mph on its first pass and was in impound by lunchtime awaiting a second, confirmation run. Any car that runs faster than the record in its class is moved to the impound area where the crew as four hours to tinker with the car. After that it's hands off and the car stays isolated until the next morning when the crew has one hour to ready the car; add gas, check fluid levels, run quick diagnostics etc. before reporting to a special staging lane. Miss the call to staging and you forfeit your chance at the record. The crew noted a coolant leak and pulled the car from impound.
On Sunday the lakester was set to full kill and driver, journalist Don Sherman, unleashed a 203 mph pass which landed the car back in impound. On Monday the lakester ran an off-pace 175 mph but the two-way average of 189.205 was more than good enough for the record books. On Tuesday the car ran 193 and was again in impound when the rains came.
On Sunday, the HHR made its maiden voyage on the short course. Cars must run on the short course first to display they have the speed to graduate to the seven-mile, long course. A run of 175 mph is the cutoff so Jim Minneker's 186 mph effort was graduation grade. Monday's long course run netted an impressive 208 mph but the condition of the course ripped the car's belly pan and by the time repairs were made the event had been canceled.
The college interns, Tessa Russell, Sarah Jubenville, Heather Chemistruck and Idalia Ovalle and the CSR Cobalt made a 140 mph shakedown pass and were in line to let it all fly on Tuesday when the rain rolled in.
There's a saying at Bonneville during Speed Week, "there's always October." All the GM Ecotec-powered missiles will be back on the salt October 12-15 for the World Finals where more records may fall.
|Car ||Class ||Result |
|GM/So-Cal Ecotec Lakester ||G/BGL ||New Record 189.205 |
|GM/So-Cal Chevy HHR ||G/BFCC ||Top Speed 208 mph |
|GM/CSR Cobalt ||G/GALT ||Top Speed 140 mph |
|GM/So-Cal Cobalt SS Bonneville Speedster ||G/BFALT ||no speed |