Here’s What A 427-MPH Crash on the Bonneville Salt Flats Looks Like
Driver Robert Dalton walked away from crashing his streamliner at over half the speed of sound.
The ethereal Bonneville Salt Flats in northern Utah have long called to those who seek to go as fast as humanly possible and etch their names into history. But every shot at eternal glory comes with an equal chance of disaster, and this past weekend's World of Speed event saw veteran driver Robert Dalton survive a terrifying rollover crash when a tire on his Hemi-powered Flashpoint Streamliner failed at 427 mph.
Dalton and his team logged an impressive 436 mph on their first run of the five-mile course on Sunday, though his exit speed of 451 mph (not counted in the official timing) actually exceeded the world record for a piston-powered, wheel driven vehicle recently set by Danny Thompson. During the second pass—the two runs are performed in opposite directions and averaged out for a final, on-the-books number—the streamliner's left rear tire suffered an explosive blowout at over half the speed of sound.
It's almost impossible to imagine the feeling of losing control in that moment. The race team shared eyewitness video of the crash on its Facebook page; at 2:05, the visible blowout sends the vehicle spinning then rolling as it skips across the salt like a stone on a flat lake.
Sheet metal peels off the tumbling streamliner at an alarming rate while the nitromethane-fueled engine can be heard sputtering away. The trail of wreckage reportedly stretched for well over a mile.
Incredibly, Dalton was completely uninjured, and photos show that the rollcage, cabin, and chassis of the Flashpoint Streamliner held up perfectly in the violent crash. One shot has Dalton posing like a true badass next to the car that brought him close to death but ultimately saved his life. "Bob said he wanted to make some changes to the way the body attached to the car anyway," a post on the team's page reads.
We'd be far less composed after surviving something like that, but the man's been at this for decades and chances are a little tumble at Mach 0.56 won't stop him.