WEATHER »
Salt Flats Lakester

Courtesy Photo

Salt Flats Lakester


Fred Dannenfelzer’s Amazing Races

The Bonneville Salt Flats’ Oldest and Fastest Man


Fred Dannenfelzer has been racing one speed demon or another for the greater part of his 74 years. He built his first street racer — a 1939 Pontiac Coupe — at 16 while a student at Santa Barbara High. A year later, he built a 1932 Ford Coupe to race on a Santa Maria drag strip where the finish lines were just hoses with bell wires.

In 1961, he went to the famed Bonneville Salt Flats of northwestern Utah for the first time and hit 188 mph in a Hi-Boy Roadster that he built with a blown Chrysler engine. Dannenfelzer never really left — except for a few years racing motorcycles, he spent the next 40 building and racing cars at Bonneville. At the age of 48 in 1985, he set his first record by reaching 235 mph in a Blown Fuel Modified Roadster with a Class A motor. A decade later, he sold that roadster and built a specialized Blown Fuel Lakester. Three years ago, at 72 years of age, he hit 366 mph. Today, he’s ready to race a Blown Fuel Streamliner.

Despite being the fastest and oldest competing racer at Bonneville, Dannenfelzer has never won any prize money, only trophies. For him, the satisfaction comes from “building your own car from the ground up and setting new speed records.” Does he have any fear of racing at such speeds? “It doesn’t scare me,” he said, “but it sure keeps the adrenaline flowing. It truly does.”

To submit a comment on this article, email letters@independent.com or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email tips@independent.com.



Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

City Closes In on New Police Station Location

Santa Barbara's Saturday Farmers Market may lose its 35-year site.

Homeless Could Get ‘Tiny Box’ Homes Downtown

Neighbors complain as City Hall fast-tracks grant application.

Ethnic Studies to Become Graduation Requirement

School board votes unanimously for 2023 start date.

School Shooting Threat to Santa Maria Schools Made via Facebook

Further investigation revealed that suspect did not have access to firearms.

Celebration of Life Ceremony Scheduled for Mark “Marky” Meza, Jr.

The 21-year-old former Carpinteria resident was killed in the Borderline shooting.