LandSpeed Productions Bonneville Salt Flats racing films, 1963-1973

Overview of the Collection

Noeth, Louise Ann, 1954-
LandSpeed Productions Bonneville Salt Flats racing films
1963-1973 (inclusive)
5 16mm films, 4 DVDs
Collection Number
The LandSpeed Productions Bonneville Salt Flats racing films (1963-1970) are a collection of motorcycle racing films. Many of the films feature shots of the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah, but they also feature racing in various other styles and from various other locations, including Daytona, Madison Square Garden, and California.
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT

Telephone: 8015818863
Access Restrictions

Materials must be used on-site; no use of original material, access copies will be made available for viewing. Five business days advanced notice required. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law, condition of the material, or by donor.


Historical NoteReturn to Top

The first land speed record set at the Bonneville Salt Flats was in 1914 by Teddy Tetzlaff at 142.8 miles per hour. Since that time, it has been used for racing because of its remarkable distinction as one of the largest flat areas in the world. Although the surface is not perfectly smooth, the total size makes it the premier place in the world to set top speed records. Each year, Bonneville Speed Week is held in the middle of August. All kinds of vehicles are raced at the Salt Flats, from small motorcycles to race cars, even normal cars.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The LandSpeed Productions Bonneville Salt Flats film collection (1963-1973) consists of four DVDs, the first two produced by Goodyear/Shell, the third by Yamaha, and the fourth by Yamaha/Ken Squier Productions. They are all related to motorcycle racing, but feature different styles of racing and different locales. All of the items have been digitized and are available for viewing on the DVDs described in this finding aid.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the LandSpeed Productions Bonneville Salt Flats film collection must be obtained from the Special Collections Multimedia Archivist.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: LandSpeed Productions Bonneville Salt Flats film collection A0078, Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following Citations:A0078.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Items are arranged chronologically.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Louise Noeth of LandSpeed Productions in 2011.

Processing Note

Processed by Michael Hinderaker in 2012.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The Spirit of America, 1963Return to Top

Container(s): Disc 1

Craig Breedlove started at 13 with a '34 Ford that his parents bought him. Opening scenes of him driving cars on salt flats of various shapes, etc. Failed to break world record for speed after his clutch exploded while going 234 mph. Micky Thompson had a four engine car named The Challenger that struggled to break record, leading Breedlove to believe that an engine-driven car was not the answer.

Craig had the idea for a jet propulsion system that he believed would allow for faster speeds than an engine driven model. He was unable to find a sponsor for a period but was able to eventually find Shell Oil. Goodyear agreed to build the brakes and wheels as well as supply tires that would hold up to the speed of 600 miles per hour.

Everything was built by hand and it took weeks to complete much of the body, which was made out of aluminum. Because of the speed with which they built the car (needed to be done for Bonneville Salt Flats '62), it was much more expensive than they had initially estimated. It was finally shown in California after being delayed three times so it could be finished.

The car itself had a strange steering mechanism, using only breaks and a rudder. After only a single run, it was apparent to Breedlove that the car would not work, because he could not control the car. After some minor adjustments, it was determined that the car would still not work correctly and need more adjusting.

In 1963, they came back after modifying the steering of the car. Breedlove said that as soon as he drove the newest version of the car he knew it would be successful. Running the car at 90 percent throttle, he was able to hit 388 miles per hour, still six miles per hour below the previous world record of 394 miles per hour. He would now have to run in the opposite direction, this time running at 95 percent throttle, hoping to move his average speed above 394 miles per hour.

Color is very pink, quality is okay but not great.

The Wildest Ride, 1964Return to Top

Container(s): Disc 2

The landspeed record switched hands twice in the first week of racing at the Salt Flats, with the new world record sitting at 434 miles per hour. Breedlove's run is measured at 442 miles per hour on the way out, which he finds disappointing. After the run, he learns that he has gone 468 miles per hour. During the run, his concern was with rough sand in the measured mile of the track that shook him enough to crack the canopy of the car after his helmet collided with it. His return run had averaged over 490 miles per hour, and he hoped to set the record at over 500 in his next run.

On the way out, Craig's mile was measured at 513 miles per hour. Knowing the 500 miles per hour he wanted was within reach, he moved his throttle up even higher. During his second run, he lost his chute and was unable to stop himself. He escaped totally unhurt after hitting a telephone pole, which he said was easily cut in half by the car and flying into a lake or pond. He set the record at 526 miles per hour.

Color is very pink, quality is okay but not great.

Your Evening of Motorcycle Racing Films, 1963Return to Top

Container(s): Disc 3

Two-reel compilation of motorcycle racing films including, but not limited to, races and land-speed record attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats. These films suffered from significant sprocket-hole damage. Both reels are included on this DVD:

Container(s) Description Dates
Reel 1
Opens with a long shot of a man riding a motorcycle quickly along a trail in what appears to be mountains. He eventually talks to the camera, introducing himself as Monty Markham and the film as being about motorcycles in various contexts, including speed records, racing, and motorcycles in movies. A television special is shown, called 'The World of Two Wheels', all about motorcycles. 400% increase in motorcycle registration between 1960 and 1970. Salinas Ramblers Motorcycle Club puts on a scramble each year, this time drawing 648 riders in a variety of events. Gary Dillard won the rear wheelstand competition. Paul Johnson wins the 250 cc race. Each race is broken down into heats leading into a main event for each class of bike. There are many shots of racing, including some of an event called the sidehacks, involving two people on each bike, one the rider, the other the 'monkey' who helps to turn the bike through tight turns. The next scene is set at Bonneville Salt Flats, where Art Barta is shooting to break a record of 106.812 miles per hour on a 250cc bike. Rick Vesco is a rider of a streamlined motorcycle, essentially an 8 foot long motorcycle with protective and aerodynamic casing around the outside. Vesco crashes while going 170 miles per hour trying to break the record of 245 miles per hour. Vesco eventually broke the record at 251 miles per hour, although only a month later Cal Rayborne claimed the record at 265 miles per hour. Next scene is all about motocross in Carlsbad, California. Motocross is described as racing not only against competitors but also against natural features. Morris Malone is one of the youngest racers at only fourteen years old. The riders are separated into classes based on their skill level, with it taking an average of four years to achieve the highest class. The 'Hare and Hounds' race is essentially a race straight across the desert in a much more undefined race stretching 190 miles from Yucca Valley to the Colorado River. There are gas checks periodically that prove that they have not taken unauthorized shortcuts. This segment includes many shots of motorcycles in relative wilderness on small trails or sometimes not on trails at all, set to music. It takes approximately four hours to complete, happening every week. At this point, the world of two wheels is concluded and the next scene focuses on indoor concrete racing, showing how the riders pad their shoes with rags and duct tape to allow them to drag as the slide almost continuously in an oval. They interview a few of the riders who talk about the intricacies of the sport, primarily with the wheels. First there is an event in Long Beach, with two heats of 7 laps each with the top 5 finishers from the two heats competing. The racers competing are Joe Henry, Allen (?) Kenyon, Jim Odom, Dave Hansen, Gene Romero, Bob Bailey, Ralph Waldman, Dallas Baker, Butch Quarter. This race is 15 laps, with Odom winning and Joe Henry in second. Less than a month later, the riders are in Madison Square Garden for another Silver Cup event. This time there are eight heat races, each eight laps long. The final is 20 laps, and the finalists are Kenyon, Aldena, Odom, Railsford, and Mashburn, and Hurst as well as some others who are not listed by name in the film.
Reel 2
At the fairgrounds at Sacramento, the professional riders are split into four heats with the 20 fastest riders making the final. Dave Aldena, Mark Brailsford, Dick Mann, Dallas Baker, Lloyd Houtchet, Jim Rice, and Rusty Koppich are listed as participants, with Aldena and Mann fighting for the lead. Aldena manages to hold off Mann at the end, winning the race. The next scene is shot at Daytona, where in 1967 Yamaha has the top five finishers. In 1968, Yamaha has the top four finishers and seven out of ten overall. Now 1971, where Jim Odom, Dusty Coppace, Keith Mashburn, Cal Rayborn, Kel Carruthers, and Duane McDaniels are racing. Carruthers wins, averaging over 101 miles per hour, with Yamaha taking the first forty spots. The top ten are Carruthers, Rayborn, McDaniels, Gary Fisher, Steve McLachlan, Ray Hempstead, John Gilray, Harry Cone, Conrad Urbanowski, and Rusty Bradley. Still at Daytona, but now on the quarter mile dirt track, riders race in heats. Barry Briggs wins the first heat with Mike Kidd and Keith Mashburn also qualifying. Briggs takes second in the first semifinal, while in the second semifinal Beauchamp wins with Gary Scott in second. Beauchamp wins the final, with Scott in second and Roberts in third. The second day there is a lot of mud after heavy rain. Briggs finishes second to Ed Salley with Mike Kidd taking third. In the second semifinal, Briggs is able to take first despite a slow start. Salley takes first, Barry Gerald takes second, and Mike Kidd takes third with briggs once again having engine trouble. Finally, in the last race Briggs is able to defeat Salley and Kenyon. The Daytona 200 features Dick Mann, Don Emdey, Mike Halewood, Duane McDaniels, Jim Odom, Kel Carruthers, Paul Smart, and Gene Romero. Dick Mann wins for the second year in a row, averaging over 104 miles per hour. Romero comes in second, with Emdey in third. Smart lead for the majority of the race, but bike troubles late kept him from winning. Little Fauss and Big Halsy, a 1970 movie starring Robert Redford and Michael J. Pollard is the subject of the next segment, showing footage of motorcycle racing that didn't make the final cut for the movie. Throughout the footage, a narrator explains how the scenes were shot, various camera techniques, the use of helicopter shots, and more. Five races are shown, a scramble, a hound and hares race, a TT race, as well as a sidehack race and a 200 mile race. Following this, there is an extended Yamaha advertisement that highlights the motorcycles' riding ability over various terrain, including dirt bikes as well as road bikes. The reel closes with Monty Markham once again riding through some hills with music playing in the background.

Don Vesco, 1973Return to Top

Container(s): Disc 4

Don Vesco talks about his childhood riding motorcycles and his thoughts on the Salt Flats. He holds nineteen world records at the Salt Flats, including a speed of over 281 miles per hour. Vesco, in a streamliner, will attempt to go faster than 300 miles per hour. His qualifying run goes approximately 236 miles per hour, proving that his bike is working correctly. The next morning, he attempts to go 300 miles per hour but the wind knocks his bike over and he slides for almost three quarters of a mile before stopping. The next morning he tries again, but the steering seems to have some problems and won't quite hold straight.

After a few weeks, in the fall of 1975 Vesco tries again. Vesco hits 307 on the way out as well as over 300 on the way back to establish a new record at just over 303 miles per hour.

Color is very pink, quality is okay but not great.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Motorcycle racing

Personal Names

  • Breedlove, Craig

Geographical Names

  • Bonneville Salt Flats (Utah)

Form or Genre Terms

  • Moving images