Team “MG Eh”

Photo for Team “MG Eh”

The bad part about travelling to a race event is sometimes you get hooked. A few years ago we went to Bonneville Salt Flats, and that was all we needed to come back and race.

I had bought a 1936 full fender roadster. It was an ex drag car, and was sold as a great car – ha-ha. The guy I bought it from saw me coming – my bad.

I went back to Bonneville and helped team “Mixed Nuts”, some buddies from Idaho. My learning curve was steep and would continue to be steep. After talking with many racers, I found out that a full fender model A was not going to go 200mph. My goal was to reach 200 mph at some point.

So when I returned I started looking for a body with better lines. A buddy and I were sitting in the shop looking at the frame and rollcage that we had stripped the old body from, when it hit me - I have a 1959 MGA that I have had for 20 years in my yard. Now that body was far from mint. We went out back and hauled it into the shop in two pieces. The center had rotted completely out. We placed the body over the frame, and damn it was very close to the right width. The length for the doors would need 19 inches more.

So then the fun began - first reconstructing the frame to make it to spec and safe. Then the long journey of body repair. I was missing a hood (Kijiji helped out) and good rear fenders, or at least fenders with enough to repair. We installed a GM LSA, added a few goodies, Tremec 6 speed gearbox, 2.75 gears, we ended up with 600+ hp at the rear wheels.

Not far into the build a buddy, Rick Bell, decided to travel 4 hours north to where I live to see my progress. He came to help work on the car. After that first few days he asked if I was interested in a partner with the car – and so it began. Over the next year we banged, welded, hammered, and polished out our project.

All work, from concept to paint, was done in my shop Saz Auto, in Peace River, Alberta, with the exception of the tuning by CCMR in Edmonton. We got it running just 4 days before leaving for Bonneville.

With three days to spare we returned back to Peace River to mount the body, get a wheel alignment, pack and get on the road.

On the road we go – two trucks and two trailers, and 2,500km to go. Rick Bell, my wife Linda, and my daughter Zabrina. We met our crew chief, Bruce Gage, and team member, Rick Gage, down at the salt.

First task - set up camp. This is a full day’s job to secure all the tarps to park on during the race event.

Second task - pass tech. Tech on the salt flats is very in depth, and if you plan on racing YOU NEED A MENTOR during your build or you will not pass. Many many thanks to Kiwi Steve for all his advice to understand what is really needed. Tech took 1 ½ + hours to be completed. At times four tech guys had discussions, but with lots of their support and direction we were ready to race.

Third task – go see what this little MGA will do. So for the first run we were to stay over 125mph and under 150mph due the licencing. So both Rick and I were ready. I did the first run. This was the first time we had the car out of first gear other than on the chassis dyno. We banged off a 144 or so on the run. The car was still breaking traction if you kept into it, but was fairly stable.

Both Rick and I passed our licences. Next step was over 150mph and under 175 (keep in mind if you break the top speed, you are licencing so you go back to rookie school – not fun). Rick informed me that he will run closer to 175 without going over. Game on. So I have the first run – the car felt great by the 2 mile marker. I had it holding very close to 174 ish, making sure that I hopefully didn’t break 175. But I want to push Rick, so I was shooting for a 172 average. Well yahoo. The car once again felt great. The team came to collect me and they were shaking their heads. Ahh I sank. Did I break 175? The laughter broke out. I had averaged a 174.29mph. OK Rick beat that. Ha Ha. We both licenced for 175.

So now more than 175mph and less than 200mph. We had a few troubles over the next few days, starting with leaving the dash and computer on over night, which completely killed the battery. Followed by losing codes in the EFI system due to the dead battery. Then we realized that at 175+, our front spoiler was starting to fold under the car, and started cracking the fenders from pressure. So we built some brackets out of shelving material from the local parts store. We also had overheating issues due to the ambient temp being 100 + F most days, so we could only stay throttle wide open for three miles.

All in all we surpassed our first year’s goals. The goal was to pass tech, and get licenced for 150mph. Rick hit an average speed of 189.29mph. I was a little slower. Next year we want to get into 6th gear.

Over the winter we will redesign the cooling system. Add a little more hp {why not}, and tackle around 25 other little items that we received education on.

I say “if you have not experienced the salt flats – go”. Is that clear enough? The salt may not be there many more years. The people and the event are something everyone should see.

We had so much fun. Please follow us on Saz Auto, Facebook or Instagram. We have a few runs on Youtube until the camera overheated – see our MGA (team MG “EH”) as we plan to go again next year.

Pictured from left to right:  Hal Bamping - driver/owner, Linda Bamping - crew, Zabrina Bamping - crew, Bruce Gage - crew chief, Rick Gage, crew, Rick Bell - driver/owner.

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Reader Comments (1)

Picture of George M. Kress
George M. Kress (Gibsonia, PA)
on October 30, 2018 3:42am
Looks like great fun but probably expensive. What time of the year does this go on and are spectators welcome.

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Last updated on October 18, 2018.