From the many films and stories that take place on the famous salt lake in Utah (The World’s Fastest Indian is a personal favourite and a must watch), one stands out to me in particular - the time Amir Rosenbaum decided to take his Ferrari F40 to the limits on the salt flats. The F40, arguably Ferrari's most iconic car (and my all out dream car), was the first series-production car to break the 200 miles per hour mark. Sounds like a great mix for top-speed racing, right?
Well, not exactly. As you’d expect the surface of the salt is incredibly soft, which means you want to float on top of it and pierce through the air, and the last thing you’ll need is any mechanical grip because there aren’t any corners. Downforce is a total no-go because it’ll only slow you down. The F40 on the other hand, has massive tyres and a huge rear wing. The downforce and grip causes the car to be pushed down into the soft salt as speed increases, meaning you need much more power to keep accelerating.
To combat this, Rosenbaum had his car prepared by So-Cal Speed Shop, who amongst general safety upgrades fitted 15inch dragster wheels with only about an inch of tread plus parachutes on the rear end because the brake discs didn’t actually fit anymore.
"If you wanna go fast, Bonneville is the place you go. But F40's make a lot of grip and a lot of down force - two things you do not want out here. You want to float on top. That's why we have dragster front tyres on an inch of tread. You're not driving, you're planning." said Amir.
Rosenbaum's highest top speed in the F40 during the famed 2006 Speed Week was a whopping 220mph (355kph), which isn’t too shabby for a car designed for grip and cornering!
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