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GM & So-Cal Speed Shop

Attacking The Bonneville Salt Flats Four Cylinders At A Time

Evan Griffey
Mar 28, 2005
Photographers: Courtesy of General Motors, Scott Dahlquist
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0512tur_01z+chevrolet_cobalt_hhr+right_front_view Photo 1/9   |   GM & So-Cal Speed Shop

Historically Speaking
GM and So-Cal Speed Shop first teamed up in 2003 on a Saturn Red Line coupe that grabbed the G/BFALT record with 212.684 mph performance. This dynamic duo followed up that first foray onto the salt with a banner 2004 effort.Ecotec engines took down class records in G/BGL (179.381 mph), G/BFR (210.881 mph), G/BFS (309.607 mph) and G/BGS (290.567 mph). Also of note was our cover car the GM Performance Division/So-Cal Speed Shop Chevrolet Cobalt SS Bonneville Speedster, which generated an unofficial top speed of 243.127 mph in a demonstration run. The fact that there was no production versions of the Cobalt released at the time of the record pass no official record was established.

0512tur_02z+chevrolet_cobalt+right_front_view Photo 2/9   |   The GM/So-Cal Cobalt SS Bonneville Speedster used its turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder Ecotec powerplant to scream to 243 mph in 2004. In 2005 the car was back to enter the record book but bad luck and bad weather conspired against it.

The Players For 2005
The 2005 Speed Week would see a four-pronged attack on the salt. The weapons of choice include the aforementioned Cobalt Bonneville Speedster, a radically chopped and stretched 2006 Chevrolet HHR in the G/BFCC class (G Class/Blown Fuel Competition Coupe; current record 226.835 mph), a So-Cal built belly tank lakester powered by a supercharged Ecotec will be shooting at a benchmark it set last year in G/BGL (179.381mph) and lastly, GM partnered with four female college interns and California Street Rods to build a new 2005 Cobalt slated to run in G/GALT (G Class/Gas Altered) in an attempt to break the class record that stands at 160.103.




0512tur_03z+chevrolet_cobalt+engine_bay Photo 3/9   |   Along with the Speedsters turbo Ecotec, the GM/So-Cal Speed Shop included a supercharged engine in the lakester, a similar turbo Ecotec in the HHR and an all natural affair in the CSR/intern Cobalt.

Game On At Speed Week 2005
Right out of the gate the Cobalt SS Bonneville Speedster was a tough cookie; disintegrating a spark plug at 190-plus mph on its first pass meant there was work to be done in the pits. Datalogging showed that the rough course caused the Cobalt to catch air and the resulting over-revving of the engine may have been a culprit in the hardship. Bonneville cars are not engineered like drag cars with engine removal part of the design. There are no re-moveable noses, no quick-change engine mounts it's all guts, no glory on the salt. The GM crew busted some serious ass and had the Cobalt ready to roll on Tuesday. The car's vengefulness persisted and the second bullet suffered from oil starvation issues and popped a rod out the front of the block. Totally unfazed the crew moved to the first engine and planned a complete teardown and rebuild. They had more than a day to get the car ready for time trials. When we left for California fresh pistons were being loaded up but but Mother Nature threw down yet another gauntlet; rain that caused the cancellation of the event.

0512tur_socalspeed_04_z Photo 4/9   |   A hollow engine bay was a common sight in the So-Cal pits. The crew earned their pay for the week swapping in two motors.

The lakester crew had an easier time of it. The belly tank speed demon ran 193 mph on its first pass and was in impound by lunchtime awaiting a second confirmation run. Any car that runs faster than the record in its class is moved to the impound area where the crew as four hours to tinker with the car. After that it's hands off and the car stays isolated until the next morning when the crew has one hour to ready the car; add gas, check fluid levels, run quick diagnostics etc. before reporting to a special staging lane. Miss the call to staging and you forfeit your chance at the record. The crew noted a coolant leak and pulled the car from impound. On Sunday the lakester was set to full kill and driver, journalist Don Sherman, unleashed a 203 mph pass which landed car back in impound. On Monday the lakester ran an off-pace 175 mph but the two-way average of 189.205 was more than good enough for the record books. On Tuesday the car ran 193 and was again in impound when the rains came.

0512tur_05z+chevrolet_cobalt+right_side_view Photo 5/9   |   The college interns, Tessa Russell, Sarah Jubenville, Heather Chemistruck and Idalia Ovalle and the CSR Cobalt made a 140 mph shakedown pass and was in line to let it all fly on Tuesday when the rain rolled in.

On Sunday the HHR made its maiden voyage on the short course. Cars must run on the short course first to display they have the speed to graduate to the seven-mile long course. A run of 175 mph is the cutoff so Jim Minneker's 186 mph effort was graduation grade. Monday's long course run netted an impressive 208 mph but the condition of the course ripped the car's belly pan and by the time repair were made the event had been canceled.The college interns, Tessa Russell, Sarah Jubenville, Heather Chemistruck and Idalia Ovalle and the CSR Cobalt made a 140 mph shakedown pass and was in line to let it all fly on Tuesday when the rain rolled in.

There's a saying at Bonneville during Speed Week, "There's always October." All the GM Ecotec-powered missiles will be back on the salt October 12-15 for the World Finals at more records will fall.

Results
CarClassResult
GM/So-Cal Ecotec LakesterG/BGL New Record 189.205
GM/So-Cal Chevy HHRG/BFCCTop Speed 208 mph
GM/CSR CobaltG/GALTTop Speed 140 mph
GM/So-Cal Cobalt SS Bonneville SpeedsterG/BFALTno speed
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By Evan Griffey
271 Articles

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