Carson City man breaks land speed record in a Datsun
Appeal Staff Writer
In an automobile that looks more like it belongs in a James Bond film, Dan Webster on Sept. 13 broke the land speed record in the blown fuel competition coupe division on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Webster, 64, a Carson City resident for the past 22 years, drove a “highly modified” 1975 Datsun B210.
He holds four land speed records in this car – unblown fuel competition (August 1994, 161.699 mph); blown gas competition coupe (September 2004, 161.098); unblown gas competition coupe (August 1998, 156.701), and the blown fuel flathead competition coupe (September 2007, 184.851).
When competing in September, Webster’s top speed was 188.536 mph. Each entry has a “down” speed, when they drive the 3 miles from the start line; a “return” speed, and the final speed is the average of the two.
“It’s always nice to know you broke a record,” Webster said. “I originally had this record, then another person broke it in August, then I broke it again.
“It felt good to take it (speed of the car) to where I thought it should be. Before it was a pretty weak record for this division.”
The previous record Webster broke was about 161 mph. Another Speed Week will begin Oct. 21.
Webster’s Datsun is 20 feet in length, about 36 inches high and sits one-half inch above the ground at its lowest point. It has a 303-cubic-inch engine from a 1950 Ford flathead.
Webster said he’s been speed-record racing about 22 years, about the same amount of time he’s lived in Carson City.
“I used to drag race,” Webster said. “From about 1962 to 1972, in California. I moved here from Pasadena in 1975.”
Webster was successful in drag racing, as well. He held three records in the D pure stock division, which is recorded on horsepower-to-weight ratio of the car, rather than elapsed time.
“I like land speed racing because it doesn’t take big money or sponsors. It’s my ingenuity and skill against someone else’s, without having a fortune wrapped up in it, the fact that anyone can enter.”
When Webster came to Carson City to look for a home, he drove through the salt flats when Speed Week was running in August of that year.
“I thought some day, I’ll came back and run.”
Webster first raced Bonneville in a 1934 Ford Coupe altered class and switched to the Datsun in 1991. He broke a record in the Ford in 1991.
“I have broken different records, nine times, and currently hold four records,” Webster said. “Basically it’s the same car, the competition coupe, with different engine configurations.”
What does Webster get for holding a record?
“I get a trophy and my name in the record book,” Webster said. “It’s worth it. I enjoy the technical part of racing. The leading edge of what you can do with these engines.
“And I’ve always been interested in cars. The first car I ever bought was a 1933 Ford. I was 14.”
Webster said even with the high speeds, he doesn’t get scared.
“I’m pretty low-key and relaxed,” Webster said. “I used to get excited. But it’s more of a sense of accomplishment for me. I no longer get the adrenaline rush.”
• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at email@example.com or 881-1223.