Of all the crazy cool, held-together-with-gobs-of-spit-and-prayer contraptions Iâ€™ve had the pleasure of photographing during Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats, the belly tankers are my favorite. I think if Dr. Frankenstein were into car racing, these are the speed monsters he would have created. In their first life these belly tankers – or lakesters as theyâ€™re often called – were fuel tanks on World War II fighter planes.
After the war, however, with hundreds of these fighters mothballed, resourceful hot-rodders – noting the aerodynamic potential of these fightersâ€™ fuel tanks – cut them in half and welded two lower-portions together, creating these utterly unique open-wheeled land torpedoes. The P-38 Lighteningâ€™s fuel tanks were a particular favorite, being perfectly sized for an engine and drivetrain.
The ingenuity and madness it took to make these beautiful Frankensteins makes me smile.
Part of an extensive library of imagery documenting Speed Week, and featured in Road & Track Magazine.