Back to the Salt

(NORTHBROOK, ILL.) America’s high-speed hot rodders will gather in Wendover, Utah at the fabled Bonneville Salt Flats August 18-24 for the 2008 Bonneville Speed Week. Once again, the Chicago-based 1991 Alfa Spider affectionately nicknamed “Bonnie” will add a little Italian flair to the proceedings while shooting for yet another speed record.

    In 2006, the screaming yellow Spider managed a 217.152 mph average over two runs to claim the G/BGMS (Blown Gas Modified Sports) record the team had been chasing since their first trip to Bonneville in 1999. That also made the Richard Kreines-owned Spider the fastest full-bodied Alfa Romeo ever, beating the record previously held by the Alfa factory’s one-off ProCar 164.

    This year, the focus is on regaining the G/BFMS (Blown Fuel Modified Sports) record Bonnie set in 2002 and obliterated by a 221 mph Nissan in 2006. The team hoped to achieve that goal last year, but had to cancel the trip west at the last minute. Now, after an extra year’s worth of aero and cooling improvements, car builder Mike Besic of Besic Motorsports and engine builder Jim Steck of Autocomponenti are confident that the International Auto Parts-sponsored Alfa has what it takes to get the job done.

    Three different drivers (Besic, Steck and Craig Bielat) have set records in the car so far, and Steck joined Bonneville’s exclusive 200 MPH Club in 2006. That type of success is exceptionally rare at Bonneville, especially for a bunch of sports car guys from the Midwest running a four-cylinder Italian sports car. Kreines is proud of what the team has achieved so far, but he’s looking forward to adding another record in 2008.

    “We’ve had the right people and everything came together,” he said. “We’ve been lucky, too—not everybody comes out there and does what we’ve done. The car’s got three records and we’ll get the other one back.”
International Auto Parts ( is North America’s largest vendor of Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Lancia parts and accessories. Company founder and owner Paul Opiela, a chemist with a passion for Italian cars, began selling mail-order parts from the kitchen of his New Jersey home in 1971. Since then, IAP has established a reputation for quality, honesty and great customer service. The company has been based in Charlottesville, Va. since 1978.