Richard A. Keller, III Bonneville Salt Flats racing films, 1970-1974

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Keller, Richard A., III
Title
Richard A. Keller, III Bonneville Salt Flats racing films
Dates
1970-1974 (inclusive)
Quantity
5 16mm films.
Collection Number
A0019
Summary
The Richard A. Keller, III Bonneville Salt Flats racing films (1970-1974) consist of five 16mm films about the cars and people attempting to break the world landspeed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah.
Repository
University of Utah Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library
University of Utah
295 South 1500 East
Salt Lake City, UT
84112-0860
Telephone: 8015818863
special@library.utah.edu
Access Restrictions

Materials must be used on-site; no use of original material, access copies will be made available for viewing. All items have been digitized and are available. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law, condition of the material, or by donor.

Languages
English

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

As a founding member of the Igniters Auto Club of Chicago in 1951, Keller, along with his eighth grade classmates, had a passion for hotrodding. Both drag racing and the fantastic speeds at the Bonneville Salt Flats filled his youthful dreams of building and racing fast cars in the 1950s. Inspired by working with "Big Daddy" Don Garlits, Keller briefly raced at the drag strips in his Cadillac-powered 1939 Ford. NASA-sponsored contract research projects at the IIT Research Institute brought him to the Marshall Space Flight Center at Huntsville, Alabama where he worked on rocket propellant monitoring hardware for the Saturn I and Saturn V booster test programs. Later, working in research at the Institute of Gas Technology on catalysis in natural gas combustion led to gas industry sponsorship of The Blue Flame land speed record vehicle.

As a partner in Reaction Dynamics, he helped to design and build the X-1 rocket-powered dragster, the prototype of the Bonneville streamliner, and the Blue Flame. The Blue Flame was their first attempt to run on the Bonneville Salt Flats in 1970. Their successful initial land speed venture resulted in Gary Gabelich setting the world land speed record, 630.388 miles per hour (1,014.656 kilometers per hour) over the kilometer distance with a flying start. It was also the first world land speed record over 1,000 kilometers per hour. This record was not broken until 1997. The following year (1971) he designed and built the Honda Hawk motorcycle streamliner, ridden by Jon McKibben to 286.556 miles per hour over one mile distance. This was not backed up by a return run, however.

In 1972, Keller was the rocket engineer for the Pollution Packer dragster at Bonneville. Dave Anderson set numerous world acceleration records over the ¼-mile, 500 meters, and the standing start kilometer at 234.775 miles per hour, the average speed over the distance. Back at the Salt Flats in 1974, he designed and built the Pollution Packer Bonneville Dragster, driven by Vern Anderson to new world acceleration records in the 1/4-mile and 500 meters. The latter distance average speed was 203.506 mile per hour. This was, again, a rocket-powered vehicle with a unique monocoque chassis structure.

Following these projects, he has designed and built the rocket propulsion systems and chassis for several rocket-powered dragsters; Lew Arrington's "Captain America", John Luna's "Moonshot", and Sammy Miller's "Vanishing Point" to name a few. These rocket-powered "exhibition" cars were very fast and popular attractions at drags strips across the country for several years. At the same time he has continued on with a successful engineering career in the medical device industry from the 1980s until now.

(This biography was provided by Richard A. Keller, III.)

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Richard A. Keller, III Bonneville Salt Flats racing films (1970-1974) consist of five 16mm films about the cars and people attempting to break the world landspeed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, Utah. Almost all of the films focus on the Blue Flame, a rocket powered natural gas vehicle, which broke that record on October 23, 1970. Richard "Dick" Keller was one of the designers of the car and shot, edited and narrated the film, "Speedquest! The Blue Flame Story 1964-1970." This collection has been digitized.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

The library does not claim to control copyright for all materials in the collection. An individual depicted in a reproduction has privacy rights as outlined in Title 45 CFR, part 46 (Protection of Human Subjects). For further information, please review the J. Willard Marriott Library’s Use Agreement and Reproduction Request forms.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: Richard A. Keller, III Bonneville Salt Flats racing films A0019, Special Collections and Archives. University of Utah, J. Willard Marriott. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Following Citations: A0019.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Arrangement

Materials are arrenged mostly chronologically.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Richard A. Keller, III in 2012.

Related Materials

See also the Manuscripts (ACCN 2708) and Photograph (P1801) collections.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Reel
1 Pollution Packer at Bonneville
00:04:42 color, no sound
16mm (photographic film size)
Footage of the racing car Pollution Packer at the Bonneville Salt Flats.
1972
2 Bonneville Gladiators Pollution Packer
00:08:05 color, sound
16mm (photographic film size)
Film showing the history of speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats, from the 1930s to the 1970s. The land speed record was 622 miles per hour.
1974
3 Thrillseekers Gabelich, Conners
00:13:12 color, sound
16mm (photographic film size)
Film showing Gary Gabelich's attempts to break the land speed record and the sound barrier, 700-800 mph, in his racing car Blue Flame.
1972
4 Break the Record, The Blue Flame
00:12:50 color, sound
16mm (photographic film size)
Film showing the history of the racing car Blue Flame, including the driver, Gary Gabelich, the fuel used, LNG, and technical information about the car. The land speed record was 622 mph.
1970
4 Speedquest - The Blue Flame Story
Part 1: 00:16:48; Part 2: 00:10:21; color, no sound
16mm (photographic film size)
Footage of the racing car Blue Flame, including the making of the car and testing it in many racetracks. This film has no audio, but includes a separated CD audio track narrated by Richard A. Keller, III.
1964-1970

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Automobiles, Racing--Speed
  • Rocket engines

Personal Names

  • Keller, Richard A., III--Archives

Form or Genre Terms

  • moving images