Team Vesco will return to Bonneville with #111 TURBINATOR II and #444 Little Giant for SCTA-BNI's Speed Week 2014. TURBINATOR IIpromises to set down some serious numbers running a T-3 turbine engine. The record in this class is 427.832 mph. Little Giant will run in the B gas streamliner class chasing a 337.197 mph record. See you there!
TURBINATOR II goes to SEMA
TURBINATOR II was a big hit at SEMA show, (Speciality Equipment Market Association) in Las Vegas and has also received coverage with some great pictures in the January issue of "Hot Rod Magazine." More than 1200 people at the show picked up the new Team Vesco photo flyers.
Rick and Dave walked the massive show thanking our product sponsors.
TURBINATOR II and the Little Giant are now off to the Grand National Roadster Show, January 24-26 in Pomona CA. Both cars will be on display in the "Century of Speed" building with one hundred of the greatest land speed record cars and motorcycles of the past 100 years.
Don Vesco, to this date, is the only person to have held the absolute land speed records for both wheel driven cars and motorcycles. He was presented the NHRA "Wally," Lifetime Achievement Award, by Wally Parks in 2001. SEMA attendees were amazed to see a salt flats car with a "Wally" personally signed by Wally Parks.
A portrait of Don Vesco riding an eagle on the very fron of TURBINATOR II assures that Don will realize his dream of being the first to 500 MPH in a wheel driven vehicle.
Crowd pleasing TURBINATOR II makes its debut at SPEED WEEK 2013
Last January Rick Vesco announced that the Turbinator would return to Bonneville Speed Week in the form of TURBINATOR II. In just ten months time, Rick designed and built an almost totally new car. TURBINATOR II has an all new carbon fiber body, new tail fin design, powerful new T-55, 4213 horsepower turbine engine, new parachute system, new steering, new brakes, new tires, wheels and a beautiful new paint scheme.Racing enthusiasts and media alike were thrilled with the sight and sound of thenew car.
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Veteran 300 mph Club driver, Dave Spangler, was the pilot for TURBINATOR II'stest runs. He said it was an honor to drive the car that no one had driven since Don Vesco's record setting run in 2001 of 458 mph.
Don went along for the ride gripping onto the feathers of the American eagle on the nose of the car. Don may indeed be the first to cross the 500 mph finish line!
TURBINATOR II's two test runs provided a wealth of information through the new RacePak data system and the expertise of Ron Armstrong.The front and rear onboard cameras also produced video clips that will guide Team Vesco in perfecting systems in the car. We were pleased with the operation of the new brakes, new electronics, turbine horsepower and body design. Rick Vesco and the MTT turbine experts will work on the fuel delivery next. Along with many other racers at Speed Week, we also found the track conditions to be a bit of a challenge this year. Overall, Team Vesco is very pleased with TURBINATOR II's performance and abilities. We will soon return to the salt. Project 500 mph is a GO!
Rick at Speed Week 1954
Rick at Speed Week 2013
Team Vesco gives a shout out to Crew Chief Rick Vesco Little did Ricky Vesco imagine in 1954 that for the next 60 years he would continue to come to the Bonneville Salt Flats each year and participate in one form or another in Speed Week. This year Rick has managed to bring two Land Speed record setting cars to the flats with the hope of capturing the ultimate Land Speed Record time. Your team salutes you!
Team Vesco gives a big shout out to AL & Hal! Al Sanderson motors have set over 85 land speed records with his engines since the 1950s. Thank you Al for your continuing support with your Small Block Chevys for Little Giant. Team Vesco thanks artist Hal Tacker for his heartfelt enthusiasm and artistic talents displayed in his custom painting of #444 Little Giant.
Wes Jacobson & Chandra Morgan
Team Vesco gives a shout out to Wes Jacobson of (Wes Airbrush Design)! We thank Wes for his artistic talent and vision for TURBINATOR II.Wes specializes in airbrush art for custom cars and motorcycles. His talent as a portrait airbrush artist is second to none. It looks like a little touch up will be needed on TURBINATOR II. The exhaust was a little too hot!
Rick "Ricco" Kunze
Team Vesco gives a shout out to our New driver-Rick Kunze, New team member and driver-Bob Blakely and New 200 mph Club, 300 mph chapter member-Eric Ritter. Way to go guys!
Speed Week Recap - in the pits
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The majority of Team Vesco's crew arrived at the salt on the first day of inspection. By the time the support trailer arrived two days later, the crew was eager to put the tents up and organize the pits. This was the first time Team Vesco raced 2 cars housed under three tents with a crew of a dozen or so. The crew worked tirelessly and without complaint. We are grateful for the efforts of the crew and friendsof Team Vesco.
A few final adjustments were made on TURBINATOR II and it was off to Inspection. The safety inspectors made a few more requests which were quickly put into place.
Technical experts were on the scene to assist Team Vesco. Jimmy Rodriguez of JDL Engineering set up the electrical components. Ron Armstrong and Tim helped install the RacePak Data system. Corey Blakesley, Marine Turbine Technologies engine specialist, was also on hand.
#444 Little Giant
Team Vesco's #444 Little Giantalso arrived on the salt with a brand new paint job. Aviation & portrait artist, Hal Tacker, designed the update and painted the old gal, giving her a classic look. A tribute to John, Betty and Don Vesco is featured on the nose of the car.The American flag runs down the side until it breaks up - due to speed! Hal is from Colusa California where crew member Ricco Kunze lives and has been readying #444 for this year's Speed Week.Hal worked closely with several local body shops to get the work done. Thanks guys!
Artist Hal Tacker
The "Little Giant" had a busy week. She arrived with a 434 ci Al Sanderson Small Block Chevy ready to run in the B fuel class with Dave Spangler driving. Problems developed on the run resulting in damage to the engine so the Team Vesco crew went to work changing out that engine for another Al Sanderson motor. This time our newest team member, driver Bob Blakely, sat behind the wheel with a 372 ci C motor on fuel. Mechanical difficulties prevented Bob frommaking the necessary runs to qualify for a record so once again, Team Vesco did an engine swap. This third motor was a Spangler/Vesco 372 ci C engine on gas. It is fondly referred to as the "learner engine." Experienced crew member, Ricco Kunze, drove for the first timeand successfully obtained his D license.
Rick "Ricco" Kunze
A "glow" of yellow surrounds #444 at the starting line.
Rick "Ricco" Kunze
Rikki Scott, team photographer
Team Vesco thanks the clubs and organizations that make salt flat racing possible. We thank the countless volunteers, safety crews, timers and course stewards. Save the Salt!
Support Team and Friends...
Jake "The Brake" Woodard
John Lee and grandson Jacob
Pat & Bob Edwards, Steve & Wendy Kunze
Our friends from Discovery Canada
We want to thank LandSpeed Louise for her dedication to Motorsports journalism. Getting the records and stories straight is so important. We thank her for hanging in there and perserving a true and accurate accounting in words and pictures of landspeed historyfor those who will follow.
Vesco's current FIA absolute WORLD wheel driven record of 458.481 MPH and top speed of 470 MPH was established in 2001 with Don Vesco driving. Don was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999 and the Motorsports Hall of Fame shortly after his death from cancer in 2004. The cancer prevented Don from realizing his dream of being the first over 500 MPH in a wheel driven car. But Team Vesco is determined to carry on. When this epic goal is finally achieved, it will stand alone in the chapters of the world's automotive history.
Don Vesco & The Turbinator 2001
TURBINATOR II (pre-paint) 2013
In January 2013 Rick Vesco announced that the Turbinator will return to racing in August at the 65th annual Bonneville speed Week. Team Vesco has joined with Ted McIntyre and Marine Turbine Technologies (MTT) to campaign TURBINATOR II hoping to eventually become the first wheel driven car ever to exceed 500 MPH. TURBINATOR II will sport an all new, more streamlined carbon fiber body. Veteran driver, Dave Spangler, will pilot TURBINATOR II for this assault on the salt. Heads up everyone!
We're off to the Races!
Mark Fleisher does some detail work.
Driver Dave Spangler eagerly awaits his ride.
Rick and Mark fasten the lower body to the frame.
Eric Ritter has the trailer packed and ready to go!
Rick installs the new pitot tube he made. It will measure air speed at the front of the car.
Rick secures bolts for final engine install.
Tools, equipement and supplies are loaded into support trailer for the trip to the salt flats.
Cockpit dash panel and steering assembly are race ready.
Team members Eric and June Ritter, NYC, have arrived to help with final preperations. Eric installs and organizes shelving in the new support trailer and gives assistance to the final install of the engine and transmission.
Jimmy Rodriguez, JDL Engineering, takes a final look at electrical components on the car. Jimmy Jr. sometimes helps his dad organize materials.
Rick talks to Discovery Channel about his family racing history and future goals for Team Vesco.
Driver Dave Spangler sits in car for the start up. (click to enlarge)
Team Vesco crew take a break with "At Your Leisure," photographer, Tyler. Driver Dave Spangler tests the seat and harnesses while Discovery Channel Canada looks on. Dave sits in the car for the start up.
Artist Wes Jacobson explains the air brushing and finishing touches he will put on the car before it goes to the salt.
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MTT turbine specialist Corey Blakesley, and Allan prep the turbine for the test fire.
The T-55 turbine successfully came to life filling Rick's shop with "hot air."
Jimmy & Jimmy Rodriguez of JDL wire up the external control for the test firing of the T- 55 engine. Friend of Team Vesco, Mike Taggett, returns from Salt Lake City with TURBINATOR II's recently balanced tires.
TURBINATOR II's new engine has arrived in good condition, fresh off the test stand. The T55-L-712F, electronic fuel injected powerhouse produces 4213 HP. It IS the bullet for the ultimate assualt weapon that will target the 500 MPH mark on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Team Vesco thanks our partner Ted McIntyre & Marine Turbine Technologies (MTT) for their continuing support.
Rob North, Rob North Fabrications, crafted and installed the hearty exhaust system for TURBINATOR II.
Body modifications complete. TURBINATOR II's body is off to the paint shop!
TURBINATOR II gets a new look as airbrush artist, Wes Jacobsonsprays color on the body and unmasks other areas.
Wes sprays yellow over masked off areas of TURBINATOR II.
Long time friend of Team Vesco, Glen Barrett, works on the hydraulic systems.
Allan Neff, master fabricator and sprint car racer/builder is adding his expertise to the Project.
Jimmy Rodriguez, JDL Engineering, is building the wire harness to interface all of the electrical components on the car. The 12, 24 and 48 voltsystems must all function togetherto provide acurrate data, safety and speed. Ron Armstrong helps Jimmy to interface the data acquisition system and to fine tune the data requirments of TURBINATOR II.
Ron and Jimmy
Crew members Cliff & Rikki Scott have arrived to give a hand with the "Project." Cliff is installing shelving etc. in the support trailer while Rikki runs the glass bead blaster to prepare parts for powder coating.
444 Little Giant - Latest...
Little Giant 444 also sports a new look thanks to the expertise of artist Hal Tacker. Team Vesco is extremely excited about the new look of both cars. We thank our talented artists for making this happen. Stay tuned for more pics.
A huge thanks to Selover's Paint & Body Auto Center of Colusa, CA. They do yellow right!
Ricco Kunze is hard at work on 444 Little Giant. His new fan shroud will fully protect the entire radiator face. The new sheet metal covers add a bit of shine to the under the bodyparts.
Prepping for paint
444 "Little Giant"is also undergoing a sprucing up with crew member, Rick "Ricco" Kunze in Colusa, California. Ricco, with his wrench is making sure all internal systems are in perfect condition to connect up with the powerful 434 c.i. Al Sanderson Small Block Chevy.
Hal & Richard Selover (Selover's Auto Body - Colusa, CA) discuss details of the new paint for #444. Thanks guys!
The Project - First to 500 MPH
Turbinator II customized wheels will be lighter and vented for the new Lamb 4 wheel drive braking system.R & D Machine of Salt Lake City, Ut is doing the work.
Before wheel vents and after
New Mickey Thompson tire mounted on new wheel
RD Machine's owner, Dusty, discusses the new wheel with Roger, Quality Control Manager.
Roger takes measurements & specifications before & after machining to insure acceptable run outs.
Roy, machine operator and program manager, operates the 5 axis digital Mazak milling machine that cuts a 5 spoke pattern in the wheel center.
Friend and neighbor, Eric Brantley, prepares body for primer.
Tim McNees, of McNees Enterprises Salt Lake City, holds the new, larger roll bar he formed for the car.
Four NorthStar batteries in the nose of the car will supply 48 volts, 2150 amps of electricty to start TURBINATOR IIand take care of all the electrical needs.A "start cart" will no longer be necessary to start the car on the starting line.
Rob North, of Rob North FabricationsNational City, CA, is fabricating twin exhaust pipes which will allow exhaust to flow from one outlet to two providing more overall area.
View from inside canopy
The larger roll bar requires a larger canopy which will accodomate the new, safer helmet and comply with current safety standards. Also it allows the driver a better visual field.
TURBINATOR II Photo by Mike Alltucker
TURBINATOR II will have 3 parachutes. The original Turbinator had only 2. Our goal is to design a stopping sytem that will allow us to go FAST on the 5 mile courses that are typical of the SCTA/BNI events. These courses usually have only 2 miles in which to stop. We will push for more room when salt conditions permit. We have worked with Joe Hansen of D.J. Safety on a system that he thinks could do the job. Of the 3 chutes, one is for use up to 400 MPH. The second chute can be used up to 450 MPH and the 3rd parachute is the first to deploy over 500 MPH. On TURBINATOR II the parachutes are contained inside an actuating tail fairing that opens for parachute deployment. This system is a Vesco proprietary design to further streamline the car. It has been highly successful on Team Vesco's #444 streamliner since 2007.
The redesign of TURBINATOR II began with body modifications. The all new, sleek carbon fiber body by AirTech is 6 feet longer for an overall length of 36 feet and the wheel base has an additional 28 inches for a total of 256 inches. The new body fits like a glove with Turbinator's chassis. TURBINATOR II promises to provide a serious challenge to the 500 mph mark!
Nose design is extended by 16" and the center lowered by 3"
Changes will improve aerodynamic flow and better traction control.
The body modifications have been carefully designed and sculpted using pieces of foam to form the new plug which will be covered with fiberglass to make the new mold.
Rick places foam strips carefully, forming to body.
The tail fin has been cut down by 4 inches, lengthened by 2 and sports an embedded camera mount. These modifications will allow for sleek aerodynamics and prevent exhaust burn. At the rear an actuating tail fairing opens to clear the deployment of the three parachutes. This system has been highly successful on Team Vesco's #444 car.