The Land Speed Record for the Grand Touring Sports Car Under 750cc had stood at 80.143 MPH since 1991, and what better car to make a run at the record than a Deutsch Bonnet HBR-5? That's what Mark Brinker of Texas thought, and he knew where to find one: Junkman! You can get the details after the jump, but we can tell you right now that they annihilated the old record!
Dearest D.B. Fans and Fanatics: It has been done! I have just returned from the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, USA, where I set the all-time Land Speed Record for a Grand Touring Sports Car under 750cc (this class is known as GT/J). I accomplished this in "BoneEvil," my 1959 D.B. HBR-5 (#1025) which has a very special, raced prepared 747cc engine. For your interest, attached are two photos of the car (and me) on the salt. Racing at Bonneville presents many problems and challenges for the little cars we all love. First, the temperature during the day can be as high as 110 degrees which the air-cooled two-banger is not so fond of. Second, the effective altitude is 7700 feet above sea level and setting carburetion can be tricky. Third, racing on salt presents challenges in regards to traction and tire slippage. The course I ran on is called the Short Course and is 3 miles in length. The speed recorded is not the top speed attained but is the average speed sustained between the 2nd and 3rd mile markers. In order to break a record, you must have a successful Qualifying Run which betters the existing record. The car is then placed in Impound with a sealed gas tank. The following morning you must make a successful Record Run (also known as the Backup Run) and again beat the existing record for a second time. The existing record for GT/J has stood at 80.143 MPH since 1991. I believe the previous record holder was a Honda two-seater. During my Qualifying Run I averaged 93.070 MPH. During my Record Run I averaged 94.918 MPH. The new Land Speed Record is the average of the two and is 93.994 MPH. As you can see, we did not simply beat the old record…we crushed it! Breaking this record has been a dream of mine for many years and I could not have accomplished this without the help of many people. When I made the decision to move forward in 2006 I had a small problem…I did not own an HBR-5. I called all of my D.B. friends in the U.S. but did not have any luck finding a car. Then I called Junkman who had two HBR-5's in his collection. Junkman is a huge D.B. fan and was not at all interested in selling either of his cars. That is until Junkman found out what I had in mind! He loved the idea of a D.B. running at Bonneville and immediately sold me the car (at a very, very fair price!). Junkman is a fantastic guy and I am forever grateful for all of his support. Thanks Junkman! There are many, many others who have helped me along the way. Obtaining parts is always a problem for those of us in The USA and Derek Fritz was with our team every step of the way, offering technical assistance and getting us the parts we needed in a timely fashion. Thanks Derek! Richard Plavetich was restoring his own (now gorgeous) HBR-5 and brought us parts back from his trip to France. Don Racine and JeanPierre Molerus have been wonderful friends and advisors along the way and gave us the info and parts we needed every time we called on them. For years, Bill Barkley has run all over the USA for all of us and has filled my warehouse full of spares. Thanks Bill! Finally, Raymond Milo has been our spiritual advisor and chief critic throughout the project. There is only one Raymond and I am definitely glad to have him on our team. There are too many others in the D.B. Club who have helped me along the way to mention but to all of you…THANKS! When I decided to make a record attempt my mechanics first reaction was…"You want to do what?!?!?!" And this was certainly logical. From a practical standpoint, it really made little sense to go for the record in a 50 year old car. After all, the Grand Touring Sport Class is not a vintage class. It is open to any and all modern two-seaters with an engine under 750cc. But this is precisely why I wanted to break the record in a D.B. As each of you know, Deutsch Bonnet has a legendary race history which includes class wins at Le Mans in ‘53, ‘54, '55, ‘56, ‘59 and '60, five consecutive class wins at the Mille Miglia (1953 through 1957), class wins at Sebring in '53, '54, '56 and '59, at the Tourist Trophy in '53 and '55, and class wins at the Nürburgring 1000KMS in '59 and '60. But was it possible to break a land speed record in a Deutsch Bonnet 50 years later? Could it be that the HBR-5 was the fastest under 750cc Grand Touring Sports Car of all time…including modern cars? This was what our team set out to accomplish. My Chief Mechanic, Greg Lucas, has literally thousands of hours into Panhard engine development. And nearly every internal engine component is special. Our crankshafts are of one-piece billet. The roller bearing is a two-piece design as is the big end of the rods. The valve train and heads have been developed to the extreme. Greg has done an unbelievable job and in my opinion is a world authority on Panhard engines and mechanicals. When I first met Greg 8 years ago, he hardly knew what a Panhard was. But he's a brilliant guy, a quick study, and with the help of Don Racine and my great friend Alva Rodriguez, who is sadly not here to see this, Greg is now a Panhard Jedi Warrior. His 747cc engines make 48HP at the front wheels (probably 65 HP at the flywheel) and will rev to an honest 10,000 RPM's. Greg also assembled a winning team to help us along the way. Mark Evans has been with us every step of the way. Mark not only "massaged" the 50 year old fiberglass body and painted the car; he did much of the fabrication and prep work. He was also with us at Bonneville, getting things ready, driving the push-truck, etc. We could not have done this without Mark. Jeff Gee has also been an important part of the team. Jeff is not only a wonderful fabricator, he is also the shops psychologist…keeping things calm whenever engines scattered parts. Dan Barton is an engine guy extraordinaire and helped our team time and time again. He was also responsible for critical machine and head work on the engines. Walt Bobo, Mike Hart, Tom Thrash and many, many others have wandered in and out of Greg's shop offering advice and support along the way. Mike Miller did the wonderful airbrush work on the car. Our team will be continue to make trips to Bonneville to try and go faster and faster to push the 750cc record over 100 MPH. We also have plans to make an attempt for the under 1000cc record in the car. So stay tuned for more records from BoneEvil. It will be up to historians looking back to determine the relative importance of this Land Speed Record in the context of D.B.'s past victories. It is interesting to note that D.B.'s victories in the 1950s were against contemporary cars of similar technological development. What we now have in this 50 year old car is an all-time Land Speed Record holder. Have fun and drive fast! Mark Brinker Houston, Texas