July 24, 2008
Alfa Spider Aims for 230 mph at Bonneville
Written by Auction News
Northbrook, IL, July 24, 2008 – 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.”[/size]
New York-based Alfa Romeo importer Max Hoffman had, in 1956, identified a market for a small-volume, lightweight, ostensibly production-based car specifically aimed at the United States racing market, which ultimately resulted in the 750G Giulietta Spider. Constructed with a lightweight reinforced chassis, Conrero-prepared competition engine, and 'Monoposto' bodywork with wraparound windscreen, these cars received a number of lightweight components, including aluminium body panels, doors and trim, as well as no exterior door handles. Some cars were even outfitted with chronometric Jaeger rev counters or a close-ratio gearbox partially cast in magnesium. A handful of cars raced in Europe, with loyal Alfa test and former Grand Prix driver Consalvo Sanesi participating in the Targa Florio, Giro di Sicilia, and Mille Miglia of 1956, and only 24 were constructed in total.
Regrettably, as with many racing cars of the 1950s and ’60s, the rigours of racing surpassed the need for comprehensive record keeping, so the exact competition history of chassis number 00301 remains unclear. Previously owned by well-known Alfa Romeo collector Keith Goring of Norfolk, Connecticut, it was imported from the United States in November 2007 and was found in a neglected but complete state by the vendor in Rome in 2011. The body, whilst exhibiting minor competition-related damage, was largely salvageable and rust free, and the engine still with the car retained its highly desirable sandcast 40 DCO3 Weber carburettors and magnesium sump.
Over the next five years, the car was completely restored by Pebble Beach award-winning restorers Strada e Corsa, of Haarlem, Netherlands. The 'Monoposto' bodywork was reinstated by Carrozzeria Quality Cars of Vigonza, Italy, with great care being taken to reuse all the original panels. Forensic work uncovered hidden layers of Alfa Romeo 'Zagato Red' during this process, and the car was duly repainted in this shade. A comprehensive electrical overhaul of the car was also carried out in Italy by specialists Elettrauto Franco, of Schio.
The mechanical restoration of the car was principally undertaken by Strada e Corsa themselves and included a full engine rebuild, retaining the reinforced 750 engine block, magnesium airbox, magnesium sump, Veloce-type tubular exhaust manifold, and Weber carburettors. JE lightweight competition pistons were utilised, as were Carillo connecting rods, a balanced crankshaft, high lift racing camshafts, a lightweight flywheel, and racing clutch. The rare five-speed close-ratio gearbox, specific to 750 series competition cars, was rebuilt, as were the suspension, brakes, and rear axle.