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Bonneville Movie Review of

The Boys of Bonneville
Racing on a Ribbon of Salt

The Boys of Bonneville – Racing on a Ribbon of Salt
A Price Museum of Speed Production

The Boys of Bonneville will no doubt be the 2011 racing movie sensation. This film is much more than a simple documentary. This is a top quality cinematic gem that offers much fresh insight into the nature of racing before racing became sanitized and commercialized into modern motor sports entertainment. The movie does a great job of gathering historical footage. Where this film really shines is providing detail, background and context to accompany the trove of vintage newsreel footage. The story itself focuses on the Bonneville racing experiences David Abbot (Ab) Jenkins of Salt Lake City. Ab is best known as the driver of the famed Mormon Meteor, but this movie goes far beyond that famous combination.

The researchers include an amazing amount of movie newsreel footage from the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s. All of this footage is crisply restored and thoughtfully presented. Much of this antique footage has never before been seen, including an Ab Jenkins Pennzoil commercial; which was never publically shown. The movie also gives an interesting glimpse at the role Ab’s son Marv Jenkins played in the many years. We see Marv mature from a beaming young boy helping his father at Bonneville in the 1930s to the driving force directing the engine rebuild in 2008. It is clear that Marv’s involvement was one of the keys to the Mormon Meteor and AB’s success.

In one historical footnote from 1925 Ab Jenkins, driving a Studebaker, races a train from Salt Lake City to Wendover, making use of the Salt Flats to beat the train. There is also much fresh film of his earlier race cars when he drove for the Pierce-Arrow company. The footage of these precursors to the Mormon Meteor is a real treat. Throughout the film, Hollywood notables, racing historians, veteran Utah salt racers and Bonneville Race Officials familiar with the rich history of Bonneville racing weigh in, explaining strategies and pointing out Bonneville details that would otherwise be lost.

In an era where safety equipment was nonexistent, Ab Jenkins was a pretty smart cookie. This documentary illustrates how he walked away from Board Track racing because he recognized the dangers that killed many of his contemporaries. Ab Jenkins displays great pride in his “Million Mile” safety record. His safety story includes 1950’s color footage of Ab safety testing of the early Pontiac Bonneville at the salt flats for General Motors. This movie follows Ab Jenkins association with Augie Dusenberg as the designer builder of the Mormon Meteor three.

Contemporary video documents the intricate and complex 2008 rebuild of the amazing 1924 Curtis Conqueror Aircraft power plant. We are also treated to 2009 Bonneville exhibition runs by The Worlds Fastest Man, Andy Green.

For the racing enthusiast this movie is a glimpse into another time. A time when motorcars were emerging from garages and shops across the nation as the latest technology. A time when men went racing with only a leather helmet and a set of goggles as their only safety equipment.

Boys of Bonneville (Racing on a Ribbon of Salt) is scheduled for viewing during SCTA’s Speedweek 2011 in the premium 1000 seat Wendover Concert Hall. Attending will be a “Who’s Who” of Bonneville Racers, crews and officials.

This fascinating story of Ab Jenkins, so well detailed and documented, will give you a “Salt Fix” without driving to Bonneville.
The Boys of Bonneville is the real deal.

I welcome your comments
Email dan@saltflats.com

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