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Speed Week 2008, Bonneville Salt Flats, Aug 18-24

Aug 23 This was our last opportunity to push our speed up higher at Speedweek 2008. We decided to go straight to the special course as it was reported that this course was running pretty fast and there were minimal delays in running on this course.

We pushed hard and churned out a number of 180/181mph runs, and we seemed to be getting consistency with the runs, although still experiencing a loss of traction.

We were going well with trialling different fuel adjustments however we were advised over the CB Radio that they were closing the course at 10am.

The run off from the special course had quite moist salt so it meant additional cleaning of the bike and radiator after each run. Another gremlin attacked us when Alan had done a run on the special course, and was overheating in his leathers waiting to be collected, by the rest of the team in the RV and trailer.

After a prolonged period of waiting between the three and four mile mark Alan became concerned because it was over 15 minutes since the recovery vehicle should have been there to pick him and the bike up.

Eventually the motor home and trailer finally arrived and it was advised that the trailer had experienced a failure of the draw bar linkage, and the trailer had come adrift where it was supported, and caused the RV to drive erratically on the salt. Neil used a couple of tools to attach the draw pin in place.

We decided to take a break and find out what else was around in the pits.

All in all we managed 10 runs on the salt on the Saturday with speeds around 181mph. We fell short of the current land speed record for our class which remains unbroken at 196mph, however in analyzing our progress, we had broken our personal record from Bonneville last year.

The constantly changing conditions between temperature, density altitude and salt all impact on our performance and it is where the challenge begins to get every extra mph out of the ZX-14.

We are already looking at the frontal area on Black Thunder with the possibility of returning to Modified Partial Streamline Category, however in a modified form with the fairing modified to optimize the airflow on the ZX-14 and as to how it flows around Alan when on the bike at high speed.

We had set a target which we are still to achieve on the salt and whilst we have previously run to 212mph in NZ, the harsh and changing conditions of the salt flats at Bonneville, show that the only guaranteed and true test for performance will be on the salt itself.

The Black Thunder Team packed up and returned to Las Vegas on Sunday August 24th to get the bike packed to meet shipping deadlines back to NZ.

The Salt Fever and determination is there, and the goals and targets have not changed so the team will look at their next plan and approach to the land speed record attempts, on their return to NZ at the end of the month.

We are very grateful for the support from everyone in our Bonneville 2008 Land speed record attempt, and also thank all of our sponsors for their help and assistance in our record challenge. In particular, thank you to:

Go Logistics for their continued support of getting the Kawasaki ZX-14 Black Thunder to and from the USA.
Castrol NZ for their on going support.
Darbi Accessories/Continental Tyres for their assistance this year.
Kawasaki NZ
Hamilton Ulysses Club
Fleetwood Corporation/Camec and Serada
Michael and Alex Maunder, Richard Ramsey, Alistar Galbraith and Scott McKenzie
Brian Reece Tokoroa Motorcycle Club
Fibre Reinforced Plastics for the fairing work on Black Thunder.
DR Design for the on going website work.
Chuck and Jackie Deguevara (Las Vegas) for the use of their motor home, garage and amenities.
Margaret Aspinall (Las Vegas) for the use of her amenities.
Mouse (Hamilton) for the plastics work.
Alpha Omega and Associates for the great uniforms.
Visual Plastics (Godiva) for the windscreens.
NZ Seating for the container work.
The Rock for the use of their Ezyup.
Loopys Mobile Motorcycle Cleaning Services
Bunnings Warehouse Cambridge
W Whites - RK Chains
Bike Rider Magazine
Debby and Grant Petch
Vicki Lowe-Reid

Thank you also to Neil Powell and Andy Goodridge for again joining the team for the attempt at Bonneville.

And thank you to the many other sponsors, helpers, supporters who have made this record attempt possible.

Watch out for our 2009 plans for our land speed record attempts.

Aug 22 An early start saw us head out for the short course.

Our first run went well with us running 177.562mph, with an entry speed at the first mile of 177.14mph, however wheel spin during the run saw speed decay to 172.896, until it was brought under control.

Our second run saw Alan run the Kawasaki ZX-14 Black Thunder over the 180mph mark with a speed of 181.678. It was quite interesting as all of the team and other spectators commented about the back tire howling as it ran out towards the first mile, snaking as it went. On this faster run Alan stood on the foot rests once in top gear and at around 175mph, to raise his back up higher to try and get the high speed airflow to hit his back and force more weight on the rear tyre to counter the traction issues.

Alan said it was like running on a bed of marbles and as he moved to stand up slightly on the footrests he could feel the bike sliding underneath him. Not the most comforting thought however it worked, and Black Thunder managed to beat it previous best MPH from the previous year, and in a production configuration (ie. stock exhaust, no nitrous and standard suspension links so the bike was not lowered for the run.)

A number of subsequent runs were done in the day, however each time the temperature, and density altitudes crept up, eroding the performance of the ZX-14.

We managed 7 runs on the Friday which made up for what we missed out on the Thursday.

A high speed slide on the long course resulted in a speed lower than what was obtained on the short course. However we finished up with 178mph on the long course on the Thursday.

Unfortunately the slippery salt conditions, had taken a toll on some competitors. A number of cars had spun out at high speed and there were a couple of serious accidents where a streamliner had spun and become airborne and was reported to have landed heavily at high speed while inverted.

Other incidents were a car on the long course also spinning and becoming airborne and crashing heavily. One motorcycle rider came to grief a short distance from the start, sliding out and high siding on his bike, which was reported to have resulted in him breaking both arms.

The last crash on Friday was a turbo Hayabusa which crashed at over 200mph. It was understood the rider was admitted to hospital but was okay.

Aug 21 Our apologies for not getting the updates up as quick as we would like however we have had a lot of issues trying to access the internet from Wendover. The problem appears to be with my laptop as it picks up the wireless connections but won't connect to the internet. We may have to catch up with pics etc to send them when we are back to Las Vegas.

Yet another early start to try and get runs in when the air is cooler and we are operating with a lower density altitude and temperatures.

With a gearing change we were hoping to minimize wheel spin, but also plan to have the bike rev out further in each gear.

A quick stop for fuel again and we elected to move away from the ERC 110 Fuel as we were getting no added benefit from it and we found it was a leaded fuel and had concerns on what it would do to the Fuel Air Analyzer probe.

As the fuel was almost empty, Neil and Andy set up and drained the remaining fuel, so we could have the ERC MUL/B recertified with a tank seal.

We had to sympathise with the refuelers in the heat as we were having the bike refuelled in the trailer, and normally Alan or Neil would get in the trailer and refuel the bike with around 3 US Gallons (at $10 per gallon), and then the refueller/certifier would have to get in to the trailer to reseal and mark the tank. Unfortunately there was not a lot of room in the trailer and they would either bang their head in the trailer, or burn them selves on the ZX-14 exhausts. Fortunately they did not complain, and we did not have to unload the bike from the trailer each time for fuel.

We headed out to the short course and did a run and then back again for a run on the long course. We ran 175.346mph on the short course still fighting wheel spin.

We then went out and ran 178.958mph on the long course, still fighting wheel spin issues. We returned to the short course planning to run again, however we had a glitch with the Power Commander which would not reset adjustments. Neil was starting to get frustrated as he had tried everything but the unit would still not reset. Finally it was suggested that the new 9V battery we had just replaced may have been defective. With some quick hot wiring Neil ran a line from the bike battery to the Power Commander, and found it was now working as it should.

We had lost a good hour or so over the Power Commander issue, and found the wind was starting to pick up. We thought the gods were with us again as with about three vehicles to go ahead of us, the wind veered down the track which would give us a tail wind.

Unfortunately, it was not to be as the wind picked up again and veered across the track and the officials elected to close the course down, so we only managed two runs total today.

After a quick team meeting it was decided not to wait and see if the wind was going to die down in the next hour, and head back to camp for an early start the following day, when the air would be cooler and would be a good test with the new fuel adjustments.

Aug 20 Yet another early rise, to carry out some testing of new ideas.

We were running ERC fuel MUL/B which replaced the previous MUL/A we had run before. We had decided to change to ERC 110 based on comments from other racers.

As we had mixed our fuel 1 gallon of MUL/B to 1 1/2 Gallons of ERC110, we would not qualify for a record run unless we had either one or the other fuel, but not mixed.

We also found out that the 110 is a leaded fuel so it was not desirable to run this for an extended period as it could damage our Fuel Air Ratio sensors.

We did a run on the long course and hit 174mph at the first mile marker, however, we were still encountering a loss of traction, as again evident of a 205mph speedo reading when in fact we were around 177mph again.

This run was not a good one as Alan backed off a mile early, thinking he had passed the last marker, and then saw there was the 5 mile marker ahead so accelerated again back up to 176.382mph. Alan said that if he had not backed off he possible had the potential to do a lot better.

Alan reported the bike sliding a little at speed, with the loss of traction, and the tunnel vision at that speed makes it challenging at times to observe just where you are on the track.

Another run gave similar consistency with a higher speedo reading, above 200mph, but an actual speed at 177mph. It was felt that we had not gained any benefit from the higher 110 Octane fuel, so elected to call it a day after two runs, and drain the fuel so we could be refilled with ERC MUL/B.

Crew Chief Neil, and Andy, were going to look at dropping the swing arm of the bike this afternoon to look at reducing the weight of the bike, as the salt conditions although slippery, probably did not warrant additional weight, and all this would do was reduce our power to weight ratio and make our goal more challenging particularly with temperatures around 79.6°F and a density altitude of 6611 ft, which sure gobbles up the horsepower of the bike.

The wind is picking up again, and as evident from yesterday afternoon you have to get your EZYups down early otherwise they could be blown all the way to Salt Lake City!!!

Other Kiwis at Bonneville
We have heard that Miriam and Doug MacMillian who live in California, (ex-pat Kiwis) have both broken records in their Honda Race Cars.

We also believe that most of the other guys working through their licensing are almost done. Richard Hollywood has completed his licencing, and will be getting in to some serious runs in his car. Shane Taylor on his Honda motor cycle has.

Thank you to all the supporters of Black Thunder Racing NZ. Keep watching for updates... we will give it our very best!!!

Aug 19 A bad start for the day, as Alan had woken up vomiting and with a migraine. Possibly brought on by two much heat the day before. The team continued to get the bike ready and join the queue on the short course to race, while Alan worked on getting himself better before they got to the start line. It was going to be a close call as to whether the team would run due to Alan's condition.

After a number of visits to the rest room and a couple of neurofen tablets from Andy, Alan was ready to run (although he was still not looking great).

The first run was just under 175mph, which was probably not bad considering how Alan was feeling. The good news was that with the adrenalin pumping after the run, Alan was feeling a lot better.

A slight configuration change and tyre change back to the Continental Road Attack tyres saw us pick up a little more performance on the next short course run, although traction was still an issue, as the Speedo went as high as 205mph, however our real speed was just under 177mph when we sighted the time sheets.

Although still well short of our goal and expectations, we took any improvement in speed as a blessing, and continued looking at other changes we could do.

This run gave us the 175mph decal again for the bike as PP 1650cc class, and qualified the ZX-14 to run the long course.

We called it a day as the wind was starting to pick up slightly and we had to get to the car wash to clean the salt off the motor home and the trailer, which both had accumulated large quantities of salt adhering to them. Great job of cleaning Andy!!!

We met a whole lot more visiting Kiwis on the salt, some who came to look by themselves and others as part of tour groups. It was really great to see them all.

In addition slowly but surely we met more of the other kiwi racing teams and exchanged our experiences of the day.

Aug 18 We were up at 5.30am to get ready for an early start in setting up prior to the Bonneville Speed Week Mandatory Drivers/Riders briefing at 9.00am.

The Black Thunder Team attended the briefing, which in its self is quite a moving ceremony, with the racers prayer conducted by an officiating minister, and the American National Anthem being sung by a woman with a fantastic voice, who sang unaided, with out music, and delivered a very impacting performance.

The drivers were offered the opportunity to travel down the three courses, to familiarize themselves with the courses, and turnoff points.

The rookie drivers were directed to the special course, which was the same length as the short course (3 miles with another two miles to shutdown). The long course was 5 miles with another 4 miles to shutdown.

We had to requalify to run the Kawasaki ZX-14 Black Thunder on the long course, as although Alan had the licences to run the long course, the bike was reconfigured to PP Class, and the bike had to requalify for the long course.

First setback was that we had to remove the GPS as the heat on the salt melted the tape securing it in place and caused the unit to slide down, giving potential for it to become jammed in the steering head.

The initial two runs were done on the short course, to test the handling and performance of the ZX-14 on the salt, which we ran to 167mph. The salt felt slippery on the bike, although the tyres did not pick up salt as badly as it did when we participated in Bonneville Speed Week 2007.

Aug 17 An early rise for the team, where we headed out to the salt flats to secure a pit location, and then join the line for tech inspection.

First surprise as Violet drove the motor home on to the salt was that it was dry with no water to be seen, as opposed to last year's water.

The salt condition appeared to be quite smooth and firm this year, so it could open up for more records to be broken.

The second surprise was that the temperature was only around 42°C, so for the salt flats compared to last year was very mild.

While in line for tech inspection we met Miriam McMillan, who we met last year. She and her husband are Kiwis and now reside in California, and run Honda cars on the salt flats. Last year they were successful in taking out records for their respective classes. Miriam had brought along a spare bottle of nitrous oxide for Alan's ZX-14 to be used if we changed class and ran a modified fuel class.

We managed to get through tech inspection smoothly, with only a few extra decals required, and substantiation of the height of the bike, as it still had the drag racing lowering straps fitted to the front end.

It was not as easy for a number of other Kiwi entrants as there had been some rule changes which affected some of the roll cage structure, and required last minute changes to modify and replace or add certain parts of chassis structure.

We left the salt to return to the camp ground at around 4.00pm, and there were still queues of vehicles waiting to get through technical inspection.

We saw the team from Early Time Motors from Hamilton, Tony Christiansen with his race car, along with other Kiwis from Tauranga, Auckland, Whakatane and other parts of NZ.

Tomorrow we have Drivers/Riders briefing on the start line at 9.00am and then we get in to some racing.

Three courses have been set up this year, and conditions are looking good.

Although Alan has qualified for the long course, his first runs will have to be on the short course, as the Kawasaki ZX14 has been reclassified in production, even though it is the same bike previously run. Here's hoping the weather holds over the next few days.

Aug 16 The Black Thunder Team had planned to have an earlier departure on Saturday morning, however we had a change to the previous days plans, as Violet's brother Charles was determined to not let the failed generator defeat him, and he was up at 6.00am pulling the generator out of the RV to determine and fix the problem.

By 7.00am Andy and Richard had joined Charles as he worked on the RV. By the time Alan, Violet and Neil arrived with their gear to load in to the motor home, the problem had been found (starter motor), and some quick rectification had been done to get the generator fired up again. As Charles wanted to ensure that we were not with out a generator should it fail again, he still insisted that we took his spare portable generator.

With everything loaded we finally got under way with the motor home and trailer around 11.00am.

Unfortunately another gremlin hit us as we decided to stop at a road side Taco Shop about an hour out of Las Vegas. We did a check of the trailer and Neil spotted that a castellated nut which held the trailer suspension together was no longer there and the bolt it held was on its way out!!!

Violet got on the phone to U-Haul, and after much discussion, they elected to send a service man out to our location to replace the part.

While we were waiting, by coincidence, Shane Taylor (Yamaha 400) and his team pulled off to check on directions. Just as well as the gremlins had got in to his driving instructions and were telling him to do a U turn and head back towards Vegas. Violet had a spare set of driving directions which she passed on to Shane, who headed of in the correct direction towards Bonneville.

After about and hour and three quarters, the service truck finally arrived, and we were pleased to see the service man replaced the nut and secured it with a cotter pin, and also replaced the cotter pin in the other side which was also missing.

If it wasn't for Neil spotting the missing part, we could have had the trailer suspension collapse, and possible causing a serious accident.

We finally got under way again, and stopped for fuel at a midway point, and arrived at the KOA camping ground at Wendover around 10.30pm after experiencing the delays.

After a late dinner we crashed back at the campsite, Violet and Alan in the motor home, Neil, Andy and Richard in a cabin at the Wendover KOA Camp ground.

Aug 15 This was a busy day, picking up Neil Andy and Richard from the hotel, and then heading out to pick up the last few bits we felt we needed.

We found umbrellas at the 99 cent store so picked up four of these... very necessary on the salt to keep the direct sun away.

We also called in to Arlen Ness Motorcycles in Las Vegas, and had a quick look at the fantastic machines they had in the huge and very upmarket show room. We were invited to go out to the workshop and saw some new custom choppers under construction. As time was against us we made this a very brief visit, as the purpose of the call was to pick up a K&N filter cleaning kit. With the kit purchased we headed over to Charles and Jackie's place where the bike was stored.

Violet went off with her brother Charles to pick up the trailer, while Alan, Neil, Andy and Richard, finished off getting the bike and gear ready, and Andy finished in side the motorhome covering the floors.

The trailer arrived and unfortunately was slightly lower than expected, however we had plenty of room and packed up the trailer with the ZX-14 Black Thunder and Little Thunder ready for the trip.

Temperatures were about 117°F which was slightly cooler than the 119°F we had the day before, but it still made the going hard in the heat.

Another problem hit us as when Charles was showing the workings of the motor home. The generator for the motor home failed unexpectedly, which was initially thought to be the starter solenoid, but is now believed to be more serious such as a ring gear issue.

This meant, no power, and no air conditioner on the salt flats - which was the big advantage of taking the motor home.

Using some US ingenuity, Charles took out the portable generator he had in his race car trailer (a larger unit) and with a relocation of parts in the trailer, was able to strap it in the rear of the trailer.

Whilst it might seem very strange... the solution worked, so we have a power lead running from the trailer to the motor home, and if we want power we position the trailer door slightly open to allow the exhaust gases out, and run the generator, and we have power!!

On the salt we will have to change the way we run this as we need to get the ZX-14 in and out of the trailer, so we will think about the easiest way to do this on the trip to Bonneville.

We finished up later than planned, so had a dial in pizza for dinner, and then a quick dip in the pool at the house, then we left Andy and Richard to stay at Charles and Jackie's, while Alan, Violet and Neil went back to Violet's mums place.

On Saturday morning (Augs 16th) we will go over and pick up the motor home and then hit the road. Hopefully we can get a good internet connection at the Wendover KOA Campground beside Bonneville, to keep updating news.

Aug 14 Alan started to unpack the bike container, that was at Violet's Brothers house and had everything prepared for the rest of the team to arrive with the panels removed and all but 4 of the base bolts removed. He also got out Little Thunder and did some quick repairs to get it up and running again for the trip to the salt. (Thank you again to Charles and Jackie Deguevara for the use of the various bits and pieces needed for "Little Thunder"). Picked up Neil, Andy and Richard from Las Vegas Airport Wednesday night, and they all looked pretty shattered so booked them in to the Boulder Station Casino Hotel for a couple of nights so they could acclimatise.

A brief shopping expedition with the team to Fry's Electronics to pick up a couple of extra CB radios for on the salt. (These are mandatory for vehicles on the salt plus we wanted one to have on the start line with the bike). Richard also grabbed one so he could keep a track of the events as they were conveyed over the CB Radio.

It was then a trip with the team over to Charles and Jackie's, to finishing getting the ZX-14 "Black Thunder" out of the container and start the preparation before getting it in the trailer for Bonneville.

Neil worked on a new modification to help keep the salt out of the lower parts of the engine and away from the exhausts. (Thank you to "Mouse" in Hamilton for the last minute job in getting a piece of black plastic to match our template). Alan and Richard positioned the old GPS and secured it between the speedo and tacho. It was hoped we could add a new smaller GPS but the only suitable model was about US$300 which was more than we really wanted to pay, so we have stuck with the older bulky unit.

All of the team worked getting the bike up and running, and then Andy and Violet started preparing the floor in the motor home, by taping cardboard over it to keep the salt out. Unfortunately they ran out of cardboard so it will be a quick trip back to The Building Depot tomorrow, to get more cardboard and a plank to use as a ramp on the trailer.

Alan also had a new seat/tail unit arrive for the ZX-14 which is a composite unit for Drag racing, however, the team reworked it slightly for fitment, and may use this if the team runs in the second class, Modified Partial Streamline at Bonneville.

Another good piece of news was that the machine mirror blanks Alan ordered on eBay arrived late Thursday, so the team will be able to fit these on Friday.

The team were really affected by the heat today as it was a minimum of 46°C and every one was dehydrating badly, and starting to feel a little of colour.

Plenty of water and Gatorade was consumed, but with all the body temperatures getting very high, the team was fortunate they were able to take a 30 minute break and jump in to the Deguevara's pool (which was still around 32°C) which managed to lower the body core temperatures down a little.

The team had a late meal around 9.30pm, and then all looked pretty shattered, so decided to call it a night and plan an early start Friday to finish the bike off.

Latest News on the Salt Conditions at Bonneville sound good and track preparation is continuing on three prepared tracks.

Aug 12 A bad start for the day and start of the trip... We had to pick up some last minute items and discovered at around 11.30am, that someone had broken in to Violet's Jeep, and had taken a number of items of value out of the vehicle. We were due to be picked up at 4.00pm to head off to the airport, so that created undue panic and stress, with calls to the insurance company and Police, plus deciding what to do with a smashed window.

Thank you to Lisa Tomlinson, who ferried us up to the Airport, and thank you also to Charlie from Loopy's Mobile Motorcycle Grooming for the "Surprise sponsorship top up" and to her parents for spending time with us (and supplying the coffee) prior to departure at Auckland Airport.

The first two of the Black Thunder Racing Team (Alan and Violet) arrived at the LAX, USA 9th August... the time passed quickly for the second leg of the trip from LAX to Las Vegas, touching down at 9:30pm, although the trip from Las Vegas Airport by taxi was rather an extended one as the driver was not familiar with the area we were going to, and we ended up arriving at our destination (Violet's mothers house) at around 11.45pm. A quick negotiation reduced the $70 fare to a more realistic $40. Thanks to Margaret Aspinall (Violet's mom) for her kind hospitality while we stay in Las Vegas.

The next morning was a trip to Violet's brothers house (Chuck Deguevara) to check on the motorcycle, which appears to be in good order. Chuck and his wife Jackie have been great in supporting us, having fed us, loaned us their motor home, and providing constant use of their pool for cooling off while working in the very hot Las Vegas Heat.

Chuck runs the Inferno Racing Team, where he owns a "Late Model Class" race car which his son Joe Deguevara, drives successfully. (Check out www.infernomotorsports.blogspot.com)

The Chief Crew Mechanic Neil Powell, Crew Assistant Andy Goodrich and Richard Ramsey will all arrive in Las Vegas at 5pm, 13th August.

Once all the team is reunited in Las Vegas, it will be full on get the motorcycle put back together. All the fluids will be put back into the bike, the motorcycle and gear will be packed into the bike trailer and stocking the motor home for the next 10 days. We are packing 7 cases of 36 bottles of water and 6 cases of 24 bottles of Gatorade to keep the team hydrated with plenty of fluids on the salt.

I have had a text message from Shane Taylor from Auckland, who will be racing a Yamaha 400 on the salt. He hopes to be picking his bike up today and then heading over to Las Vegas. We also understand Chris and Lincoln Harris from the Hawkes Bay will be also collecting their vehicle today in LA.

The Black Thunder team is staying at Wendover KOA Recreational RV Park which is just a short distant to the Bonneville Salt Flats. 17th August is inspection on the salt, with no racing that day. After bike inspection the team will set up a home base on the salt and begin taking photos for all of our sponsors, sporting their caps and apparel. The salt conditions as of 11th August 2008 are looking good. (See below)

Updates on the preparation at Bonneville on the Salt Flats (From SCTA-BNI - Roy Creal Report)

12/08/08 The courses are all dry and responding well to dragging. The weather is hot and everything is Ducky. Roy

11/08/08 The Wendover PD and Tooele County Sheriffs have expanded their forces. We have it on good authority that the Speed Limits on the access road to the salt and the roads leading into Wendover will be very strictly enforced. They are also enforcing open container laws. If you want to help pay these new officer's salaries, please feel free to speed; it'll take the pressure off the rest of us.

11/08/08 All courses are dry. Course preparation is continuing as scheduled. Roy Creel Report

10/08/08 Rained last night on the salt. Standing water at the mile mark on all 3 courses. There was no damage. Expect 90 degrees and windy for the next week. Course preparation is continuing as scheduled. Roy Creel Report

Info to any fellow Kiwis travelling to Bonneville

I understand a number of the Kiwis traveling through Vegas will be staying at the Boulder station Casino/Hotel where there is a heap of parking for RV's and trailers and also Circus-Circus Casino Hotel RV Park.

If you want to keep in touch with each other without accumulating enormous toll charges, grab a US Prepay Cell phone from Walmart for any where from about $10, plus a $20 top up card, and it will save you a heap. AT&T appear to have pretty good coverage in the USA, however there will be a lot of no cell coverage areas on the way to Utah.

For your information - Walmart, have pretty good deals on bulk water and Gatorade which you will need plenty of for your time on the salt.

Also if you are in to Drag Racing - there is Drag Racing in Las Vegas - PSCA Labor Day Nationals at The Strip 29-31 August.