Bloomington, MN -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/06/2012 -- The salt flats were first used for timed motor sports in 1912, but didn't become truly popular until the 1930s when Ab Jenkins from the U.S. and Sir Malcolm Campbell from Great Britain competed to set land speed records.
Historically, the speedway was marked out by the Utah Department of Transportation at the start of each summer. Originally, two tracks were prepared; a 10 mile long straightway for speed trials and an oval or circular track for distance runs, which was typically between 10 and 12 miles long depending on the condition of the salt surface.
Since at least the 1990s, track preparations have been the responsibility of the event organizers. Days or weeks in advance, the track preparers identify an area best suited for their track layouts and begin grading the tracks. Surveyors are brought in to survey the timing trap distances. A day before racing begins, the track markers are added.
The number of tracks and the timed sections for each track are set according to what is most beneficial for each event. Large public meets such as Speed Week run as many as four tracks with several timed miles, usually starting with the second mile and running to the fifth mile. Smaller meets that typically only run world record attempts will utilize a single track, with one timed mile and one timed kilometer in the middle of the track. Additional marks and cones indicate the end of the track and the position of timing equipment.
In August, the Southern California Timing Association and Bonneville Nationals Inc. organize Speed Week, the largest meet of the year, which attracts several hundred drivers who compete to set highest speed in a range of categories.
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