Retired NASCAR Cup Racer Makes 271.8-MPH Pass, Smashes Class Record at Bonneville

This slightly modified Dodge Charger stock car achieved the feat with driver Bob Keselowski behind the wheel.

At the recent World of Speed event in Bonneville, Utah, performance shop Keselowski Motorsports campaigned a Dodge Charger NASCAR Cup racer that had seen its fair share of track time before hanging up its oval racing hat and hitting the salt flats. The car was driven by former ARCA champion Bob Keselowski, father of NASCAR drivers Brad and Brian, who topped the Dodge out at 271.8 miles per hour on Bonneville’s five-mile straight line course, trouncing the previous stock car record of 240 mph. 

As the Charger made its many runs, Bob’s son Brian documented the process through a series of Twitter posts.

To find out what preparations go into running a stock car at such a high speed, The Drive spoke with Bob Keselowski over the phone as he and his team made the long drive back to North Carolina. During the call, he explained that the Charger required surprisingly little modification; it still runs its standard 358 cubic inch, carbureted V8 putting out around 800 horsepower. While these cars are only intended to drive about 190 mph around an oval track, Keselowski Motorsports squeezed out extra speed by swapping out the stock rear differential for one with a taller 2.75 gear ratio. The only other additions to the Dodge were a rear spoiler and Goodyear Land Speed tires wrapped around aerodynamic “smoothie” wheels.

Keselowski told The Drive that even in his former stock car racing career, he was always trying to see how fast the cars could go, and he once managed 199 mph around the banks of Talladega. The driver eventually decided that he wanted to set the stock car record at Bonneville, and he already knew that the Dodge was capable of 270 mph after extensive wind tunnel testing.

When it came time to run, Keselowski had a pusher car roll the Charger up to 50 mph, then he put down the power. On the very first pass, the car ran 250 mph, already setting its class record. Throughout several days at the World of Speed event, it made a handful of passes in the 260 mph range before achieving a blazing 271.8 mph speed on September 16.

The driver described his land speed runs as admittedly nerve-wracking, which is saying something given his high-speed oval experience. Even with the car’s aerodynamic design, crosswinds made steering light, and the rear tires continued to spin up until Keselowski shifted the four-speed transmission into top gear. At the end of each five-mile run, he stopped with the assistance of a drag parachute. The racer told The Drive, “When you pull that ‘chute, that’s the first time you breathe since you left the starting line.”

Bob Keselowski also made it a point to give “kudos” to the World of Speed staff, who he says kept the Bonneville Salt Flats’ surface in a better condition than it had been in years.