Family relationships key to 'Mormon Meteor' movie

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Over the years, you've probably heard stories about land-speed records set at the Bonneville Salt Flats in a futuristic orange and blue car. Maybe you saw the Mormon Meteor on display at the state capitol. A new movie coming to Utah theaters focuses on the stories behind the machine.

You might expect the star of the documentary, "Boys of Bonneville: Racing on a Ribbon of Salt" to be the car in which so many land-speed records were made, but film makers say there's a lot more to it.

Mention Ab Jenkins and Utahns might connect him to the triumphant, speedy turns around the Bonneville Salt Flats inside the Mormon Meteor III.

Director Curt Wallin said, "This is a true Utah hero, and he pretty much exemplifies Utah."

In "Boys of Bonneville", Wallin and producer John Greene take us way back, before the records and fame, to meet a man who fought to follow his dreams against tough odds.

The voice of Hollywood actor Patrick Dempsey, a race car driver himself, brings Ab to life, recounting the walls he faced then blew right through.

"I had one automobile and six spare tires to prove to the world what an ideal course the salt beds could be," he says.

Along with Ab's perseverance and ingenuity, the film tells a powerful story about family, particularly his son Marv.

"Marv was at his father's side throughout his racing career, and that's so good of Ab to include him and bring him along," Greene said. "And then after Ab's passing, Marv had to take that passing of the family torch and preserve the car and the family's legacy and the family's history, and make sure it wasn't tarnished and forgotten. And he did a stellar job of that."

Greene and Wallin took care to honor the legacy of a man driven not by ego, but a desire to push himself to his full potential, despite the dark days of the American depression.

"It really makes you feel good, and it'll teach your kids, or whoever, what hard work is all about, and getting through those tough times," Wallin said. "And what better time than right now to say, ‘Hey you can get through it; this can be done.'"

Southern Utah will get its chance to check out "Boys of Bonneville" next month. The Doc Utah festival will screen the documentary on September 9th, on Ab and Marv Jenkins Day. The Mormon Meteor will be in St. George for that event.



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Keith McCord


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