Coverage of the land speed arms race tends to overlook a key player in the competition: the Bonneville Speedway. Much of the serious competition to set ever-faster land speed records take place here, on a tiny corner of Lake Bonneville.
Never heard of Lake Bonneville? It covered much of the Great Basin, encompassing most of Utah and large parts of Idaho and Nevada, forming a 1,000ft deep, 19,691 square mile lake- nearly the size of Lake Michigan. It formed 32,000 years ago and lasted nearly 18,000 years before hitting its maximum size... and bursting the wall of the Great Basin. You can still see the breach today, at Idaho's Red Rock Pass.
The Great Salt Lake is just a leftover puddle from Lake Bonneville. When it dried, it left behind a number of smaller lakes and a LOT of salt. The Bonneville Speedway is located on top of these salt flats, which are around 46 square miles in area. Lake Bonneville's leftover salt lies five feet thick on the ground, in places, and its total mass is estimated to be around 147 million tons of salt.
14,500 years later, brave men and women strap themselves into rocket and jet-powered vehicles and tear across its surface.