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September 19: Ab Jenkins finishes a 24-hour drive at Bonneville on this date in 1932

September 19, 2013

David Abbot Jenkins caught the thrill of speed racing motorcycles around the salt flats near Salt Lake City, and his fame in the 1920s quickly reached the Pierce-Arrow company, which invited him to Buffalo to look over its new V-12 models. Jenkins came up with the idea of testing the Pierce-Arrow with a 24-hour drive around the flats -- and when the company balked, did it anyway, driving a Silver Arrow with 33,000 miles on it from Buffalo to Utah, setting up a circular course on the salt and then running flat out for 24 hours, stopping only for fuel. Jenkins drove 2,710 miles, ending on this date in 1932 with an average speed of 112 mph. It was the beginning of the speed trials on the flats, and as the "Boys of Bonneville" documentary shows, Jenkins would rightly be hailed as the godfather of American speed. The following year, he'd do it again -- this time, shaving behind the wheel on the final laps to look presentable.