Bonneville Salt Flats World Records!

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The Pierson Bros. Coupe at Bonneville When Tom Bryant still owned it.


This is a picture of the Bryant clan admiring the 216 coupe.


This is Tom Bryant’s new coupe that he and his sons started building in February of 1992, first raced at BNI Speed Week, August 1992. Same class as the other coupe, (D/CC). Tom holds world records at Bonneville, El Mirage, and Muroc. Fastest of which are, 2 miles average speed of 216.482 mph, fastest mile of 232.949mph, and terminal speed of 237mph. Tom is a charter member of the 200mph club at Edwards AFB, Muroc! 1st Lake racing there since 1949.

.......... wrote: 5/17/97

Hello Dr. Dave,

I got your message to call about my car. I don't know the best time to call and I don't want to interfer with your work. E-mail me at if you want to give me a schedule.

While at Muroc the end of last month, I ran into Jim Evans and had a good visit. I had not met him before. He was able to fill in a few holes in the history of the ownership of the coupe. I knew that Dawson Hadley had purchased it from Pierson, but I wasn't aware of Jim's involvement. (Jim said to say Hi to you for him)

At Muroc, Jeff (my eldest son) drove (our new coupe) to a new record of 219.816 MPH to gain entry into the Muroc 200 MPH Club (his fastest ride anywhere). Our goal is to place him in the El Mirage and the Bonneville clubs this year as well.

The succession of ownership of the Pierson Coupe according to my knowledge is: Pierson, Evans & Hadley, George Bently, Tom Cobb (the last person to run the car at Bonneville before I got it, {1958} 196+ one-way with a blown 331 cu in Chevy), Bob Joehnck (Bob ran the car at the Bakersfield 1st National Drag meet in 1959, in preparation for an assualt at Bonnevile, powered by a Chrysler. He had handling problems so he sold the car to one of his employees. The next owner found the car parked at the curb in Santa Barbara, inquired about it and bought it, bringing it to Redding where it remained in a barn on old 44 Hwy for several years until it was purchased by Dick Schell of Central Valley. Dick got a rule book from me and attempted to prepare the car for Bonneville, but, becoming discouraged sold it to me in June, 1980. We first ran the car at Bonneville in August 1980.

If there is other info you want, e-mail the best time to contact you and I will call.



Subject: 1998 update Date: Sat, 31 Oct 1998 08:14:06 -0800 From: "Thomas E. Bryant" To: David Hemp


World Finals/FIA (October 14-17, 1998) CANCELED

The World Finals was canceled do to standing water, so no more runs at the salt this year. We are preparing to go to El Mirage Dry Lakes for the two-day meet November 14 & 15 to attempt to regain our Gas Class record there. We are building another motor with the newer eighteen degree Chevrolet Bow Tie heads, however, it won't be ready in time for the November meet. World of Speed (September 23-26, 1998) Jeff and I did go to the World of Speed meet in September, unfortunately, Mother Nature was not kind to the racers. We arrived Wednesday AM, set up our pits and got the car inspected. At 11:30 AM we attended the driver's meeting and learned that we had a wet race course between the three and four mile post. It had been decided that, to allow the race course to dry a little more, there would be no runs made until Thursday. However Wednesday night we got some rain, not much , but enough to further complicate our situation. This did give us some time to do further preparation to the race car, which, as it turned out, was good for us. We found that we had a serious water leak into the oil. A cracked cylinder head! At noon Thursday the officials open the course for tune up runs through the 2 1/4 traps, but, we were busy trying to correct our water problem. After a trip to town for epoxy, we fixed the head, changed the oil and now we had a serious contender, but, not in time to run Thursday. Friday we went to the salt to find ourselves plagued by wind, which was not all bad, because the wind can help to dry the racing surface, if it bows the right direction, if not it can bring more water across the race course. It was blowing the right direction. By 12:30 PM on Friday cars were allowed to run the first two miles. A 132' speed trap was set up at the end inside the two miles. We put the car in line for a tune up run. The first run netted us a 187.50 MPH run which was fair, but I felt that we could improve by leaning the motor a little. The next run Jeff ran 194 + which on a normal course, would be a quarter mile time between 200 and 205 MPH (our best 1/4 speed to date has been 201+). The engine was still a little rich, but, were happy with the results and hoped to be able to run a full course on Saturday. That was not to be, we had serious rain Friday night. Saturday morning we went to the pits and load up our equipment while wading around in 2 inches of water. We headed back home with the hopes of returning to the World Finals the 14th through 17th of October.

Speedweek '98

Margaret and I arrived in Wendover Friday 8/14 shortly afternoon, grabbed a bite to eat and proceeded to the salt to set up our pits and get the car inspected. Jim Johnson and Bill Drum, also from Redding, had saved us a spot to pit next to them. Jim has the "Grreate Grape" a purple Studebaker powered by a 691 cubic inch Donovan Chrysler which runs in AA/GCC. This is a car to watch. Jim acquired the Stude a couple of years ago and is getting aquatinted with the Salt Racing after laying off for many years. He ran 224+ on a 254.545 record.
We got the car inspected, as it turned out under the watchful eye of a media team who wanted an inspection process on camera. We breezed through inspection with no faults, returned the car to the pits and went to town to clean up and relax. Saturday morning we returned to the salt to set up our shade canopy, prepare the car and attend the driver's meeting. After the meeting we joined many other competitors for a short tour down the race course in our push trucks to get a look at the condition of the surface. The salt was very good this year, do to the pumping of brine that began this year, I suppose. Reilley Chemical, who mines potash from the salt flats has begun a pumping process to return millions of tons of salt that they have removed over the years. This is supposed to add about 1/2 inch of salt over a 26 square mile area each year.
In the afternoon we returned to Wendover to pick up Jeff and his son Gabe who had flown in from Red Bluff. Time now to get serious! Sunday I made three runs. The first was 172.205 MPH in the first mile, not good, the next I turned out after going through low gear, the next was 185 in the first mile, obviously something is not right. We spent Monday replacing the intake manifold gasket which was leaking and making a check of all our systems. Jeff then took his first ride since the crash last October, a part throttle ride, 184.50 MPH in the first mile, the car was still was not running right in the upper RPMs. Jeff's second run netted a 194 in the middle mile and a cockpit full of smoke. Detonated three pistons, so we are done for this meet.
I am not sure yet what our performance problems are. I suspect the change in the air induction system has some problems. We are repairing the motor and building a new fuel injector air box for the "World of Speed" September 23-26 with plans to regain our fuel class record which we lost to John Beckett of South Carolina at 226.470 MPH. John also raised our gas record to 226.527 MPH, we plan to work on that at the "World Finals" in October.
Even though we had our problems, Speedweek was a great meet. There were roughly 350 car entries plus several bikes. There were a few spins, as usual, one car Streamliner (9898 H/BFS Bickford Racing, driver Jim Bickford) and a Motorcycle Streamliner (1500/S-BG Project Goldwing, rider Kenny Lyon) crashed. Both drivers are OK, Jim was hospitalized a couple of days for observation, but was walking around in the pits on Wednesday. Al Teague had top time of the meet for a piston engine car with a run in excess of 368 MPH setting a new record at 366.043 in "C" Streamliner, Vesco's Turbine powered Streamliner had the fastest time of the meet with a 390+ run, Burkland's new two-engine Streamliner went 361 in the middle mile with traction problems. The next run they broke the front transfer unit and retired for the meet. After crashing two years in a row, George Fields returned this year with a rebuilt and redesigned Competition Coupe. His work netted a A/FCC record of 264.667 MPH. Lots of other teams did well. The results of the meet are on line at

3rd Annual Muroc Meet (June 27 & 28, 1998)
(postponed from 4/25/98)

It has been a long time since I brought everyone up-to-date on the progress of the "Tom Thumb Special." The following is a overview of the situation as it stands now. We do have a race car that is functional! Many hours have been spent in rebuilding after our accident in October, a few changes/improvements have been made, and hopefully by Speed Week the 15th - 21st of August, we will have a presentable car as well.
We entered the car in D/Gas Competition Coupe class and made our first test run, on Saturday June 27 at Muroc. The added skirting, (intended to give a low pressure area under the car) works. Actually its a vacuum cleaner!! The car immediately filled with dust and the run had to be aborted. Top speed was about 140 with a coast through the clocks at 92 MPH. Back to the pits and removed the skirting! Sunday morning we worked with silicone and duct tape to plug all the holes we could find in the underside and rear firewall of the car. Made a second run about 11 AM, still dirty inside the car, but I could see enough to continue down the course. About 100 to 200 yards before the clocks the rear of the car set to the right at about 30 degrees to the course, (hit a soft spot in the course I guess) I backed off the throttle, decelerated against compression, and let it go where it wanted, which was off the course just past the clocks. I received a time of 178+ and a damaged nose of the car. Hit some cones as I left the course. (I'm certain we were running in excess of 200 MPH when it got out of shape.) I admit that it scared me. After the accident we had in October and the tragedy Saturday, my confidence was a bit shaken.
Early Saturday we had a mishap with a lakester that resulted in the death of Bruce Johnston, a long-time competitor at the Lakes and at Bonneville. The racing surface was not as good as normal, breaking up rather quickly causing traction problems for the faster cars. We are in the process of repairing the damaged received at Muroc and finishing the body work so we can get a coat of paint on the car before Bonneville. This is the 50th year since Speed Week began in 1949. Should be quite a week on the Salt with many of those that ran in 1949 in attendance. A good time to make the trek to Salt whether or not you have been there before.

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