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Western Rec: Test & Tune

Western Recreation

Western Rec: Test & Tune

07/13/2014 | Tooele County, NV

This is Bonneville. It’s here, during the trials of the late summer and early fall on a desolate salt flat in nowhere Utah, that motorheads, drivers, engineers, tinkerers, and speed-obsessed crackpots from around the world congregate in an annual pilgrimage to crack the code of speed.

Western Rec: Test & Tune


I Western Recreation

Western Recreation is the study of the recreational habits and habitats of Americans in our Western states. It is an integral part of our greater research project, American Recreation. In order to gain insight into the recreational habits of our fellow Americans, we traveled the vast network of roads, campgrounds, State & National Parks, coastlines, beaches, rivers, mountains, lakes, forests, deserts, valleys, small towns, fairgrounds, trail systems, gas stations, parking lots and similar to survey and investigate the myriad forms, expressions, styles, modes, manifestations, permutations of American Recreation.

II A Genuinely Modern Pleasure

Speed, it seems to me, provides the one genuinely modern pleasure.”- Aldous Huxley, 'Wanted, A New Pleasure'

This is Bonneville. It’s here, during the trials of the late summer and early fall on a desolate salt flat in nowhere Utah, that motorheads, drivers, engineers, tinkerers, and speed-obsessed crackpots from around the world congregate in an annual pilgrimage to crack the code of speed. In the air hangs the fragrance of fuel: gas, diesel, alcohol, and jet menacing the nose, pressuring the sinuses. Around us, dotting the glassy desiccated sea of salt, are the trucks, trailers, vans, pop-up tents, and umbrellas that have been used to transport and house jet cars, drag trucks, speed bikes, rocket sleds, and pretty much every conceivable form of land-based velocity machine you can imagine.


It takes a certain type, as the risks are incredible. The vehicles are more-or-less water balloon animals built around a bamboo frame; easily tearable, maim-able, breakable. And it’s not just the driver but the entire crew, the race staff, and the community that bears the burden of danger.  With so much at stake, preparation is taken seriously and the vehicles are finely-tuned and delicately-tweaked with maddening precision in the days and weeks leading up to the trials. Small adjustments standing still are exponentially amplified at speed; a shimmy at 80 mph means catastrophe at 300. Is the fuel mix right, the tire pressure dialed in, the engine running correctly? These things tend to manifest only when the vehicles are pushed to their limits.


In the end, the challenge is simple. No turns, no jumps, nowhere to hide and nothing but time. Point the thing, punch the gas, steer it straight, go for broke. Such is the quest for speed.

III Test & Tune Visual Slideshow

Yes, this is the car that Doc wanted to drive in Back to the Future. Except at the time he was a poor scientist who had a tight budget and couldn't afford a ripping hot rod. Imagine how far into the future Doc could've gone with a rig like this!
It takes all kinds.
When I drew dragsters as a child I drew this car. Exactly this car. How unbelievably insane is this car? LOVE IT.
Reflections of past and future lives.
Yeah dude, you can power pose. You've earned it.

IV Mission Made Possible: BTS Salt Flats

Western Rec: Test & Tune
Blue Sky
  • 1. The sky here is so blue and the sun in the sky is SO bright. It's like the sun is swimming in a nice little Mediterranean ocean. Which is great for the sun. We want the sun to be happy. If the sun's happy we're happy.
  • 2. But maybe not in the short run, because in the short run the sun's happiness could mean that we're sunburned and heat stroked. In the long run though, big picture stuff, if the sun is happy then the planet is happy ergo we humans are happy.
MW Blaik Alpaca Wool Beanie
  • 1. You might be thinking, hey, it's the desert, why would anyone want to wear a beanie out there?
  • 2. Well if you're thinking that you've been reading Crock for too long because it gets cold in the desert. Like cold cold.
  • 3. But the cold isn't the only reason to wear beanie. If you want to, you could rub sunscreen through your hair and into your scalp, but why do that? Why not cover your head to protect it from the sun? Boom. Beanie.
MW The Interval: Microlight Windshell Jacket
  • 1. You know that it gets windy in the desert. Even the most dedicated of Crock readers will have noticed that, from time to time, palm trees and date fronds have little movement lines drawn next to them indicating wind. The desert does wind.
  • 2. The Salt Flats are located in the middle of a desert. Therefore the Salt Flats do wind.
  • 3. And all the salt out there adds teeth to the wind; fine, sharp teeth like airborne ghost pirañas constantly nibble at you in Bonneville.
  • 4. So we have these great wind shirts to protect us against the wind.
  • 5. Black, the Bedouins do it and they know the desert better than anyone. So we go with black. Yes, it's a bit of a FU to all the heat, but we've decided to trust in their tribal/ancestral knowledge.
Yanco x YJ Passport Pouch
  • 1. Designed by Yonder Projects and built by Yanco, this passport travel pouch will get you across any border, GUARANTEED!
  • 2. The only problem? This is only one in the world. So far.
  • 3. It's made of Cuben Fiber, it's SO light, but it's also strong. Some say this material can stop a crossbow bolt or even a drag motorcycle rocketing across the salt flat at 400 mph. Did we find out? See for yourself.
MW The Sector: Merino Wool T-Shirt
  • 1. T-shirts are for sure a part of desert attire. But the same old cotton jamz have been around forever.
  • 2. Thankfully there are people like the people at Mission Workshop who recognize that the future is going to happen whether we like it our not, and that the t-shirt is going to be a part of that future.
  • 3. So they updated it with merino wool and some nylon tech fabric. Whats that mean for us now, here in the desert?
  • 4. Well, the merino captures and deals with body odor and body water in a way that cotton just can't, and the nylon bits make sure that our tees look great even after a few days battling with the sun.
  • 5. Why do we need our tees to look great? Because you should look how you feel and you should feel how you look and we want to feel great and look great.
MW The Division: Chino Water-repellent Pants
  • 1. If you desert enough, you'll quickly notice shorts are not part of the program—particularly on the salt flats. Your legs will get sunburned, salt-burned, and just weird-looking.
  • 2. No, here at the Test & Tune you wear pants. And if you're going to wear pants, you might as well wear these pants because they're just better, more futuristic pants than whatever pants you initially thought of.
Danner Rivot TFX Boots
  • 1. If you're storming a salt flats speed trial, you need boots that are made for storming.
  • 2. The soles on these bad boys are designed to grip like crazy when traversing salt or sunscreen or jet fuel, so you can stop worrying about falling and focus on capturing all the high speed action.
MW The Cadre: Weatherproof Barrel Duffel
  • 1. Perfect for carrying sunscreen, sun hats, sunblock, sunshades, suns... why not?
  • 2. The spherical profile means if you can find a sun small enough, it will fit right in there. Physics issues aside.
Canon XA-20
  • 1. It shoots 1080p, is the size of a petit cat, zooms, and records sound.
  • 2. If you were to ask any documentary filmmaker what they need a camera to do, their list would be more or less exactly the same.
  • 3. The thing is a skeleton key that unlocks the wonders of the world. Magic, simply magic.
  • 1. Before gold, or maybe it was just after gold, there was salt.
  • 2. In the old world, especially in the ancient barbarous lands of Europe, salt was a precious commodity. A fight to the death commodity.
  • 3. And here, in this vast saltwater lake without the water, salt is beyond abundant. I bet those ancient warriors would feel pretty silly if they saw this place.
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