Payson Team Sets Land-Speed Record At Bonneville Salt Flats

Nine friends, all over 60, build record-setting roadster

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Fueled by adrenaline and dreaming of speed, a Payson senior citizen has set a land speed record at the famed Bonneville Salt Flats.

On the way to setting the mark in the Vintage Roadster Class, Bill Goldman became a member of the exclusive 200 mph club.

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Bill Goldman, sat atop the 1938 Banter Roadster that Aug. 16, set a class record of 213.093 mph.

"Out of the 520 entries, only eight got in the ‘2 Club'," Goldman said. "I've spent a lot of my time chasing the 200 (miles per hour) club."

The Payson man set the record of 213.093 mph while participating Aug. 16 in the prestigious Speed Week activities at the Bonneville site that is known is racing circles as "The Birthplace of Speed."

Goldman's mark broke the previous class record of 210.069 mph set more than six years ago.

In posting a best-ever standard, Goldman was allowed two miles to get up to speed and then electronically timed for a minimum of three miles.

It, however, was during the fifth timed mile that the record was set.

"It was a real thrill to go that fast especially with my head sticking up (out of the roadster cab)," he said.

Goldman's interest in racing began in the early 1960s when he began driving sprint cars on dirt tracks at Phoenix Manzanita Speedway.

"But then I got married, went to work in a Tempe machine shop, and had kids," he said. "There wasn't time or money to race."

In 1998, Goldman's thirst for speed was rekindled during a visit to Bonneville to watch Speed Week races.

"I looked at the cars and decided I could build one of those in about a year," he said. "That was foolish."

With dreams of becoming the best at Bonneville, Goldman and a group of nine friends, all over 60 years of age, set out to build what they hoped would be a record-setting roadster. All of the work was performed in Goldman's high tech machine shop, located at the Payson Air Park.

Goldman calls the movement a type of grass-roots effort that represents racing at its purist best.

But, on the road to success there were plenty of detours and disappointments.

‘We took the car we built to Bonneville four times, never broke a record, and each time returned to Payson with a bucketful of broken parts," Goldman said. "But, we didn't give up."

Paul Paul, one of the senior citizens who volunteered to help build the car and was along on the trip to Bonneville, said, "it was a lot of years of hard work by a lot of people."

The racecar

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Bill Goldman and friend Paul Paul work on the roadster that set a new land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

In handcrafting the roadster, rules required the Payson team use a body from a 1928 to 1938 car and the engine is one built prior to 1954.

So, Goldman -- a master machinist with a keen eye for detail and craftsmanship -- selected a 1938 Banter Roadster body and an inline six engine, pulled from a 1953 GMC truck.

"I chose that motor because it has lots of torque," Goldman said.
The six-shooter was punched out to 322 cubic inches, outfitted with custom parts -- including a worked Skinner cylinder head -- and fitted with mechanical fuel injection.

"The only thing stock is the block and the crankshaft," Goldman said.

Meticulous attention to detail in the engine compartment is obvious to anyone who has ever lifted the hood of a car.

"The parts couldn't be bought, we had to make every piece," Goldman said.

Paul describes the engine as simply "sweet."

For fuel, the high output six runs on a 55 percent mixture of nitro and alcohol.

Goldman estimates the engine, at about 6,000 rpms, will churn out a hefty 600-plus horsepower.

The bright orange roadster body was modified to lessen the aerodynamic drag, which, Goldman and Paul said, is extremely important on a racecar that has five to seven miles to run.

Even the front tires were designed with a skinny profile to lessen drag.

All four wheels are covered with circular "moon" caps that were a hot rodding rage in the 1950s and 60s.

But their purpose is not for appearance, but again, to lessen drag.
The modifications also included a stunning long-nose body that attracts the attention of every passerby.

Although Goldman and his team are elated with the speed record, they are certain the roadster can go even faster.

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The Payson crew, mostly senior citizens who helped build a record-setting roadster, were on hand at Bonneville Salt Flats to see the racecar set a land-speed record.

"I think it can go 225 mph plus," Goldman said.

With that in mind, the senior crew continues to modify the roadster at Goldman's machine shop.

Each turn of the wrench is done with precise detail as the volunteers' fine-tune the car for its next attempt at setting a record. That opportunity could be in August 2008 at Bonneville.

When the roadster does go out for another shot at a record, Bill Goldman will probably not be at the wheel.

"My son (Garrett Goldman) will probably drive it, we are preparing the car for him," Bill Goldman said.

Although Bill Goldman probably won't drive his way to another record, he's satisfied knowing he and his friends were able to craft a vintage roadster that became a record-setter and the rage of the Bonneville speed party.

During the event, which is a 24/7 car show as well as a race, it was theuel roadster from small-town Arizona that attracted the attention of those who came to watch, wrench or were along because the journeys are Mecca-like trips for gear heads.
Goldman believes the popularity of the roadster was probably because it was home-brewed by a bunch of 60-plus year olds who volunteered simply for the love of the sport.

"We approached it seriously, but did it for fun," he said.

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