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GM Performance Division Continues Record-Setting Week at Bonneville Salt Flats


Chevy So-Cal Cobalt SS Scorches the Salt at 246 MPH during Qualifying

2006-08-15 - WENDOVER, Utah - The Ecotec-powered Bonneville Student Project Cobalt SS, which runs on E85 ethanol, upped its land speed record yesterday to 163.608 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in the G/FCC class (G Class/Unblown Fuel Competition Coupe).

Only one day after setting the first-ever record at Bonneville using E85 alone, the Student Cobalt bested its record by more than 7 mph using E85 in conjunction with nitrous oxide.

GM Performance Division engineer and driver Mark Dickens had another strong day as he drove the Student Cobalt to the new speed record and then scorched the salt with a 246.680 mph qualifying run in the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt.

The 246+ mph run beats his own personal best speed of 243.127 mph in the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt during the 2004 Speed Week event, which earned the car the nickname “243 Cobalt.”

“We may just have to give it a new nickname now,” said GM Performance Division executive Al Oppenheiser, whose team heads up GM’s efforts at Bonneville.

The ’243 Cobalt’ set a 218.392 mph record in the G/BFALT class (G Class/Blown Fuel Altered Coupe) this past Sunday, and now Dickens has the opportunity to shatter that record on Tuesday.

With his G/BFALT record on Sunday, Dickens was welcomed into the Bonneville “200 MPH Club,” joining fellow GM engineer Jim Minneker in the exclusive land speed record fraternity.

Both vehicles are powered by the Ecotec 2.0-liter LSJ engine, but the Student Cobalt is based off the naturally-aspirated version.

The Student Cobalt - engineered in part by 19-year-old Heather Chemistruck from Virginia Tech University, 21-year-old Lauren Zimmer from Purdue University and 21-year-old Sandra Saldivar of New Mexico State University - broke a 19-year-old 152.626 mph record on Sunday, which was set in 1987 by Doc Jeffries.

“We’ve proven that E85 is not only an environmentally friendly fuel, but also a capable race fuel,” said Chris Twarog, GM Performance Division engineer and Student Cobalt crew chief. “For yesterday’s record run, we had some fun by using the nitrous oxide system the girls added.”

For more information on GM’s activities during 2006 Bonneville Speed Week, please visit and click “Press Kits / Events” at the top of the home page, find the 2006 list of kits and click “Bonneville Salt Flats.”


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