Donation Spotlight: The Lakester #77

A Bonneville bullet now calls the Petersen Automotive Museum home after breaking records on the salt flats.

Bonneville is one of the purest tests of man and machine in motorsports. Every car has its limit, as does every person who tackles the salt flats. The annual speed trials are a decades-long tradition dating back to the 1930s when Hot Rodding adventure seekers would test their home-built creations on the vast, empty salt flats. As record after record fell on the flats, the location became a pilgrimage for thousands. What was once a gathering point for a few brave men, became a week-long speed trial for machines of all shapes and sizes. Everything from 4-cylinder economy cars to jet-powered missiles “cars” participate in the event, with records in each class ranging from comfortable highway speeds to speeds that would make most airplanes envious.

Seth Hammond is one of those men, building, breaking, rebuilding, and testing the limits of car after car. One of his most successful creations is the Lakster #77, a 1,035 horsepower, purpose-built, projectile that is more bullet than car. In its fastest run, the Lakester #77 topped out over 300 mph - 311.853 mph to be exact, beating the previous record by over 40 mph. A car like this takes a small army to assemble. Channing Hammond (Seth’s son), the Gaffoglio brothers, Lee Gustafson, and many more were involved with the build, while Chip Foose offered the design and paint. All of this for just a few seconds on the salt, for that extra thousandth of a second at the speed trap.

Hammond has since donated the Lakester #77 to the Petersen Automotive Museum. Though it likely won’t see 300 mph in our hands (the expanded vault still isn’t quite big enough). The car will be used to train and educate the thousands of guests who pass through the museum annually. The car is now on display among other racing legends from across the gamut of motorsports, from GT to open-wheel race cars, to Le Mans winners and many more.

By Jeremy Malcolm