M. V. Man Feels Need for Speed In Bonneville

Custom Streamlined Vehicle Hits Over 300 MPH – But He Wants More

Traversing the Bonneville salt flats in Utah in a custom-made vehicle, Middle Village’s Eric Ritter and Team Vesco hit an average speed of 339.339 mph. at the Southern California Timing Association’s World Finals on Oct 5.

Eric Ritter (at right) takes a look at his “streamliner” vehicle, which ran at an average speed of 339.339 mph at the Bonneville salt flats at the Southern California Timing Association’s World Finals on Oct. 5. At left, Ritter poses with his team, Team Vesco.

Ritter becomes the first New York City man to get into the Bonneville Salt Flats’ 200 Mph Club’s 300 Mph chapter.

“It’s hard to put into words,” he said of the experience in a phone interview with the Times Newsweekly. “It gives you goosebumps.”

“You can tell when it’s a fast run, when it’s a slow run,” he added, notby ing that he can feel it in his backside.

Ritter has been a member of Team Vesco since 1987; formerly a motorcycle racer, he was put in touch with members of the team and now travels west each year in August, September and October to try to race custom-made “streamliner” cars across the salt flats.

According to Ritter, the flats provide a “really clean” environment in which to race; however, the flats are located 3,500 feet above sea level, posing issues with air and oxygen.

Preparation for his run began two years ago, with 11 people working on getting the car ready to go.

“Everything on them is handmade from the ground up,” he said of the vehicle. Ritter added that one of the main issues is obtaining tires that can withstand speeds of over 300 mph; teams used to use tires made in the 1950s, while one company made tires for use on the flats in the 1990s.

As for future goals, Ritter states that he wants to fulfill the goal of the late Don Vesco, the team leader who passed away in 2002, to reach a top Wheel Driver speed of 500 mph. The group’s fastest time so far is 458 mph.

Team Vesco has family roots: Don’s father ran at Bonneville in the 1960s, and his brother Rick now manages the team.

For more information on the team, including video of Ritter’s run, visit www.teamvesco.com.

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