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A man’s only as good as his word ... and the car he’s driving

Two years ago, a promise was made to our town that Pagosa Springs would one day be taken to the fastest place on earth — the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway in Utah.

Last week, that promise was finally fulfilled.

Pagosa Springs resident, community leader and red racing car enthusiast Mark Weiler made good on his word and took Pagosa Springs to the 62nd annual Bonneville Speed Week.

Sporting the official logo of the Town of Pagosa Springs, Weiler’s red Firebird graced the Flats during the week of Aug. 14-20, setting a new record at an amazing 211.311 miles per hour.

The Bonneville Salt Flats is a unique natural resource. The world-famous Salt Flats is a naturally-formed salt crust which covers approximately 30,000 acres (just over 46 square miles) and encompasses an estimated volume of nearly 100 million cubic yards of salt. The Bureau of Land Management manages the Flats as both a Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC). In addition, it is also on the list of National Register of Historic Landmarks because of its contribution to land speed racing.

Each year, hundreds of men, women and their machines participate in the breathtaking challenge against the salt, and against the limitations of past technologies. Breaking land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats goes beyond being just a need for speed — it is a challenge against history and a dedication to improvement of self and one’s machine.

In an enthusiastic e-mail back home to his Parelli Fan Club, Weiler exclaimed: “Set a new record with the Firebird – 211.311 mph! Spun the car out at 212 mph! Sliding SIDEWAYS at 212 mph is TOO COOL!”

“Too cool” apparently goes a long way to blowing the hood off of his Firebird as well. But that didn’t stop Weiler from getting back behind the wheel after reconstructing the hood out of the broken pieces, and putting it back on the car. In addition, Weiler owns what he calls his “real fast car,” a red modified Lakester which he’s taken past 300 mph.

“Spun my ‘real fast car’ out at 300 mph!” he exclaimed in his e-mail home, “Blew out the canopy, tore off some of the body panels and the wing. Just shifted into high gear full throttle, full turbo boost, broke the rear tires loose at 300!”

What few folks know, yet he would enthusiastically tell you in a heartbeat, is that in all the world, only 65 people have taken a car to 300 mph or beyond — and Weiler himself is number 65. He drove his Lakester to 324.376 mph in 2008, earning him membership in the prestigious 300 MPH Club.

Fortunately, his cars were the only things that were a bit damaged, and cars can be repaired. Weiler himself came back home to Pagosa Springs safe and sound and in very good spirits indeed.

He set a new record in his Firebird.

He took the Lakester up to 300 mph — again.

And, to the Town of Pagosa Springs, he kept his word.