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1929 Ford ‘747’ Bonneville Racer

by Vincent De Rossi | Oct 05, 2020

Retro Rod


In one way or another Bruce Meyer was destined to be involved with cars. His mother wrote in his baby book, "Bruce loves anything with wheels".

In 2012, at the age of 71, Bruce Meyer set out to fulfill a long-held dream on the historic Bonneville Salt Flats: to drive over 200mph in an open roadster.

Truth be known, back in 2010 Meyer had already surpassed the magic 200mph mark at Bonneville driving Jack Rogers’ 1983 Camaro achieving 222mph.  

Breaking two-oh-oh in a tin-top with its aerodynamic advantages is one thing but to run over 200mph in an open roadster with the aero characteristics of a brick is another.

To reach such a high speed, you need a plan and Meyer’s was to purchase the 1929 Ford Roadster from the late Gary Brauer who campaigned the car regularly at Bonneville Speed Week. The renowned Roadster had set many records and has 200 passes under its belt, so it’s a well-proven and well-built race car. Meyer then enlisted the help of Bauer’s legendary right-hand man and car/engine builder Mike Cook.

Cook completely rebuilt the racer and tuned the Chevrolet 427 cubic-inch engine to produce a monstrous 1,000 horsepower plus.

In 2012 Meyer strapped himself into ‘747’ waiting to be pushed off, he sat thinking about his first run two days prior achieving 183mph followed by a 196mph run the next day. Now in his final attempt, it’s do or die.

Meyer knew that every subtle move made in the car could drastically affect the outcome, he understood that even though he was the one behind the wheel, at that speed the car had a say in which direction it would go. “This is not like racing slick tyres on a race track. This is slick thin tyres on packed salt; it’s like ice,” he explains. “The faster you go, the more the car wants to move around, so you don’t want to do anything drastic with the gas or steering wheel. And if the car wants to go south to Arizona, you just have to let it go.”

 

Meyer knew that every subtle move made in the car could drastically affect the outcome, he understood that even though he was the one behind the wheel, at that speed the car had a say in which direction it would go. “This is not like racing slick tyres on a race track. This is slick thin tyres on packed salt; it’s like ice,” he explains. “The faster you go, the more the car wants to move around, so you don’t want to do anything drastic with the gas or steering wheel. And if the car wants to go south to Arizona, you just have to let it go.”

 

Meyer had to work hard to settle his nerves but he followed his “Never Lift” motto even when the Roadster started to wander, Meyer kept his boot in it and ended up clocking 204mph. He and ‘747’ had done it.

 

“You’re never too old to have a happy childhood.” ~ Bruce Meyer

Images courtesy of The Peterson Museum