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After The First Injury, Officials Emphasizes The Importance Of Safety During Speed Week

Yellow vehicle on Salt Flats: This year marks the 70th anniversary of Speed Week.
Bureau of Land Management


The 70th annual Speed Week is this week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah and one driver has already been injured at the event.


Speed Week is a famous motor racing event hosted annually by the Southern California Timing Association and is known for breaking world records and danger. But Pat McDowell, president of the SCTA, says safety is their number one priority during the event.

“The safety of our drivers is paramount to us," he said. "That’s the first thing we think of. Motor racing is a dangerous sport, and everyone understands that, but our safety regulations are second to none. Sure everybody wants to go fast and break records but we won’t let them do it if it isn’t safe and they understand that. Safety first is what we go by.”  

A 74-year-old veteran driver broke his rib Sunday at the event after losing control of his vehicle while attempting to break a speed record traveling at 200 mph. The cause of the incident is still under investigation. McDowell said the injury wasn’t more serious because of the SCTA safety regulations.

“The car ended up upside down, we had to cut him from the car," he said. "And he sustained only a broken rib. And that was in excess of 200 miles an hour.”

The Bonneville Salt Flats, where Speed Week is hosted, are public lands and therefore fall under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM rents out the lands for events like Speed Week. Matt Preston, the manager of the BLM Salt Lake field office, says the BLM is a proud host of Speed Week.

“BLM is really proud to host an event like this and to partner with Southern California Timing Association to put on speed week," he said. "It’s one of the gems in our field office here and we’re just proud to get the public out there enjoying their public lands.”