Dominick Granata of Lincoln, left, Bob Smith of Auburn, center, and Mike Granata of Newcastle stand next to the 1929 Ford Model A Roadster that Dominick Granata drove when he qualified for the Bonneville 200-MPH Club last month at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Dominick Granata’s new hat might look like an ordinary red baseball cap to some folks.
To fans of drag racing at Utah’s famous Bonneville Salt Flats, however, the hat’s more prestigious than the green jackets golfers receive for winning The Masters.
Granata earned the hat by joining Bonneville’s elite 200-MPH Club last month at the Utah Salt Flat Racing Association’s World of Speed. Driving a bright yellow 1929 Ford Model A Roadster with a 700-horsepower engine, Granata posted a record average speed of 200.806 mph to win the Street Roadster class and join Bonneville’s elite.
“More people have climbed Mount Everest than have gotten into that club,” said Michael Lang, a member of Granata’s pit crew.
Granata, who co-owns M&M Muffler in Auburn with his father Mike, will try to break his record yet again at this week’s Southern California Timing Association/BNI World Finals, which will take place Wednesday through Saturday in Bonneville.
Breaking the record wasn’t as simple as driving faster than the existing record speed. To qualify, Granata had to first break the record, then have a subsequent run fast enough that the average of the two speeds would stand as the new mark.
“You have to back it up,” he said.
Granata certainly did that. After clocking in at 202.195 mph over Bonneville’s straight five-mile course on Sept. 18, he posted a speed of 198.418 on Sept. 19. The two speeds averaged out to 200.806, shattering the old mark and putting Granata in elite company.
“I broke the record three other times, but I was never able to have a repeat run until the last meet,” he said.
The salt flats’ terrain makes getting into the 200-MPH Club that much tougher, Granata said.
“It’s like driving on marbles,” he said. “It’s a hard surface, but it’s slippery at the same time. It’s a challenge to race on.”
The old record of 197.001 mph was Granata’s own. Breaking the record had been a goal for both Granata and his father since Granata set the previous mark in 2007.
Dominick and Mike Granata have been racing cars at Bonneville for six years as part of Granata & Smith Racing, a team formed with Auburn resident and longtime Bonneville enthusiast Bob Smith. Racing allows the Granatas not only to test out their products — they build custom exhaust systems for hot rods, muscle cars and other types of vehicles — but also to engage in what Dominick calls “one of the last pure forms of racing.”
“There is no prize money,” Mike said. “There are no sponsorships. It’s strictly prestige.”
Since Mike Granata works with his son on the car on a regular basis and also serves as his son’s crew chief, he’s every bit as invested in Dominick’s success as Dominick is.
“I’ve been involved with automobiles since I was a little tyke,” Mike said. “When he was a young guy, he became interested in it. It’s been a hobby for both of us through the years.”
Ray Hacke can be reached at email@example.com.