Bonneville Speed Week 2010 Baddest Race Cars #4

Bonneville Salt Flats Streamliner

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Well it’s gonna be! Right now, it’s a lesson in patience.

Take a look at the “Maro Special” a dedicated Bonneville Salt Flats streamliner race car if there ever was one. Like most race cars on the “Great White Dyno” aka Bonneville, this one’s got a great story and Bobby Moore is the perfect gentleman to tell the story. Just like with the World’s Fastest Corvette owned by Bobby, going fast takes time.

Bobby Moore was 15 when he built his first car, a 1933 fenderless Plymouth five window coupe that he found in a field. He’s always enjoyed the thrill of speed and the many friends made during his racing career. So naturally, in 1996, Bobby was drawn to Bonneville as driver of the Hoyle-Dickenson-Moore A/FL (A size engine’d lakester). Then later in ’96 he bought the old 219mph Doc Jefferey’s A/GT Corvette. The team campaigned the car in 1997 where Bobby got alot of seat time and learned many humbling lessons at Bonneville. With the hardest speed lessons learned, in ’98, he joined the 200mph Club with a record of 234.162 in A/GMS (modified sports car class). Through this effort he met Lee Kennedy who has proved over the years to be a fountain of knowledge in both speed and safety.

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Around the year 2000 Bobby started dreaming of going over 400mph in a piston driven streamliner. While continuing setting more and more records with the Worlds Fastest Corvette, construction of the prototype MARO SPECIAL began.

You’d think Bobby’s time behind the wheel of a 200+mph Corvette might help him with a streamliner build, but this wasn’t the case. The prototype Maro Special’s short comings were quickly made apparent by the likes of The Burkland Family (see Baddest Race Car #1), Andy Green (Thrust SSC fame) and Richard Noble (Thrust 2 fame), Lee Kennedy and Tom Hanna.

The speed consortium asked Bobby, “Speed costs money, how fast do you want to go?” To which Bobby replied, “450. I don’t want to mess around unless its 450 mph!”

450 it is. From that point on, Bobby Moore’s original A/FS design was changed from a nine thousand pound unstoppable missile to a sleek, five thousand pound aerodynamic streamliner!

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With the 450 goal clearly in mind, the new design was sketch first by A. J. Smith (Who also designed George Poteet’s “Speed Demon” streamliner) on a napkin, over dinner at the (luxurious!) Wendover Peppermill. Six renderings for a formal design were forwarded to Bobby in Tulsa around 2004. After the choice  for the shape and all-wheel-drive design was made, Tom Hanna’s race car shop in Wichita, KS started building the “new” car. To get started, they used the old streamliner frame, turned upside down, as the fixture for building the new car!bonneville race car builder, bonneville salt flats racing

Tom Hanna, a member of the Drag Racing Hall of Fame, is well known for his design, engineering, and manufacture of a myriad of high speed autos. His metal forming abilities are only matched by his attention to detail and safety. Bobby went on to say, “He is the one constant who always puts the driver’s safety, and ultimately life, ahead of any record.”

Tom’s worked his magic at Bonneville on the Craig Breedlove 600mph “Spirit of America” as well as a record setting Porsche.

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The all-wheel-drive streamliner has unique steering up front. 3 degrees is all you need at 450!

The problem with the original car was that it might have gone fast, but it never would have stopped. There was too much steel and not enough aerodynamics. The Corvette Bobby races has a whopping total of 2020 lbs of lead and concrete carefully placed to keep it on the ground. The ‘vette’s total weight is 6,089 lbs!  According to Bobby, ” That was my mindset when I designed the first generation Maro Special.”  That’s why Tom Hanna and another Drag Racing Hall of Fame member, Bob Creitz were so important.

The new Maro Special, must use aero forces to keep it on the ground if it ever wants to reach 450 (and of course stop again!). Moving forward with air on his side and all four wheels putting the nitro powered 498 cubic inch motor to the ground, the design makes sense. The motor, in Bobby’s words is, “Basically the same motor as in Top Fuel drag racing with the biggest Procharger blower they make.”

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Even without enough runs on the car to really get after it, Bobby can’t say enough about Tom Hanna’s contribution to the streamliner: “Tom Hanna, not only is Mr. Safety, but he redesigned every inch of The MARO Special. OK for an example, he designed a safety back up for the three parachutes. I would have been happy with the air assisted (compressed air cylinder) on each chute but he has a manual check system that instantly shows me if there is a failure. And, yes, we did have one (a failure) in a practice run on the Yoder runway.”

For 2010, the goal was 300mph and to find all the “new weak points” of the system. In 2009, they found the carbon fiber drive shafts were the weak point, so new, specially balanced to 400 mph drive shafts were installed.

“In 2010, we had steering issues that we fought all week.  After a two hour conversation with Tom Burkland, we all came to the conclusion that a conventional front end set up with caster would be better for me and my limited driving experience past 270.  Tom Hanna’s original design would have worked with the addition of a different valving system but I felt more comfortable with the same type arrangement that is on the Corvette —except that #33 will  again be all wheel drive.”

You can be sure, with the help of his great team, you’ll see the Maro Special making wide open passes soon. It’ll just take a little more patience… Make sure you stop by and say hi! Bobby says, “It’s like old home week in our pits when all these vintage racers get together to talk about the ‘Old days’ of racing.”

To keep up with the team, check out the Maro Special home page here.

Or, stick with for 2011 Bonneville Speed Week coverage. You know we’ll be there!

What do you think of this car? Can it go 450??

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