Its Bonneville or bust as Truckee man goes for speed record
For some people its the perfect game of golf. Others dream of a great powder day. For Truckees Roger Lessman, its the dream of 475 miles per hour on the Bonneville Salt Flats.Lessman, managing partner of East West Partners, is chasing a world land speed record in a 28-foot-long, 1,500 horsepower race car, five miles at a time. So far he has taken the unique compressed natural gas racer up to 240 miles per hour, but eventually wants to break the current 458-mile-per-hour record for wheel-driven vehicles.Im not a big fan of golf this is my recreation, Lessman said. Ever since I was a little kid I was into motorsports.Lessman said hes been going to the Bonneville Salt Flats in western Utah since 1978, but his latest car takes a different approach to creating power.I use compressed natural gas because I wanted to do something cool from an environmental standpoint, Lessman said. I want to set a speed record using alternative fuels.This year Lessmans goal is to hit 400 miles per hour in August, and go even faster in October, but he said when working with cutting-edge equipment sometimes things go wrong.Bonneville racing is just one of those things, you have to learn patience, Lessman said.Susan Fisher, Lessmans girlfriend and companion in the garage, said Lessman has definitely learned patience on the salt flats.Hes still just as laid back when hes out there, Fisher said. He doesnt go kick tires and fume when he doesnt get to run.But once he gets out there and behind the wheel, its all worth it, he said.When you are waiting to go you get really anxious, but once the push-truck gets you up to 30, 35 miles per hour and you are on your own, its an absolute thrill, Lessman said.Slowing down happens even faster by dumping the laundry, which means opening the parachute, dragging it to a stop, he said.Lessman said that going to Bonneville every year is like a reunion with old friends, and the racing crowd is only getting bigger.Its really become popular over the last couple of years, probably boosted by The Worlds Fastest Indian, a lot more motorcycles, he said.Running computer simulations, Lessman said he has set on a goal of making a 78 second run over the five mile course, which should bring him to a record-breaking speed of 475 miles per hour.It may not get there this year, but thats the goal, Lessman said.And Fisher said she has no doubt he will accomplish that goal.I believe anything he sets out to do he will be able to do, Fisher said. Theres a lot of little boy in him.