Butler man has sights on all-time land speed record, upward of 500 mph
With no practice or trial run, Rob Freyvogel of Butler hopes to reach a speed of more than 500 mph in a streamliner car he has spent four years building.
“We are going for the all-time land speed record, which is 472 mph. You have to do it twice. Computer models are telling us this car can go 550 mph,” said Freyvogel, a mechanical engineer who runs Carbinite Metal Coatings, a Renfrew company.
Freyvogel, 47, plans to compete in September at the World of Speed Races at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The amateur event features hot rods, roadsters, belly tankers, lakesters, motorcycles, streamliners and even diesel trucks.
He's hauling the car, which he hasn't driven, from Butler to Utah on a 30-foot trailer.
“It would be hard to test it around here. There is a place in Ohio where we could have tested the car, but we've been too busy with the car's finishing touches,” Freyvogel said.
He and about eight other men built the car, which weighs about 3,000 pounds — similar to the weight of a Honda Accord.
Work on the car has become more demanding in recent weeks, said Freyvogel, who built it at his business.
“We used to have eight guys working here on Thursday nights. Then we added Tuesday night. Now we've been here on weekends,” he said.
Freyvogel, along with his engineer friends Brandon Barnhart and Eric Ahlstrom, spent two years designing the car and considering everything from tires to aerodynamics.
He has spent about $100,000 on parts. The vehicle's cost would be much higher without donated parts and labor.
“We'd like to have a sponsor. We have not been able to get one so far,” said Andy Hixon, Freyvogel's co-worker.
Known as a streamliner, the car is long, slender and has enclosed wheels.
In order to break a record, Freyvogel will have to get the car to reach a record-breaking speed twice.
“You have to build something that is not a one-shot deal,” he said.
Located near the Utah-Nevada line, the 30,000 acre Bonneville Salt Flats are administered by the federal Bureau of Land Management. It has attracted car racers since the 1920s and is where many of them set land-speed records.
Races at the flats are among the last amateur events in racing, said Ellen Wilkinson, secretary of the Utah Salt Flat Racing Association, which sponsors the World of Speed races.
“These races attract people who have a dream or a concept they want to test,” she said.
Parts of the area's salt surface are flattened for the races by pulling a large drag across it.
The flats are more likely to be dry in the summer, but the salt surface is an unusual place to drive, Wilkinson said.
“Even at the dry time of year, the salt always stays kind of damp. People say that makes racing feel like hydroplaning,” she said.
Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Festival organizers aim to break record for Jeeps on display
- New book boasts of Butler being home to 1st Jeep