Photo Courtesy of Utah Valley University

'Bombshell Betty': Unique 1950s speed race car that broke records in Utah to get major restoration

By Carter Williams, KSL.com | Posted - Nov. 13, 2020 at 7:11 p.m.


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OREM — A 1952 Buick that's broken a half-dozen land speed world records is getting a makeover.

The car, nicknamed "Bombshell Betty," is to be restored and reengineered by Utah Valley University students who aim to have it break the 200-mph mark by the time the project is completed around September 2021.

"It's a great opportunity for our students to learn project and time management, teamwork, organization, hard work, and the satisfaction of completing a job. The car has a very unique appearance and draws people's attention regardless of where it is," said Jeff Holm, UVU Transportation Technologies professional in residence, in a statement.

The unique car is a 1952 Buick Super Riviera that a New Mexico sculptor and racer named Jeff Brock found at an abandoned Arizona sawmill in 2008, as noted by Motor Authority. The vehicle's since been featured in several car magazines because it's speed and post-apocalyptic design are difficult to miss.

Brock worked on the vehicle with his wife and a pair of college students to get it ready for the 2009 Speed Week at Utah's Bonneville Speedway, BoldRide reported, in a 2016 feature of the vehicle.

They overhauled its engine, adding in one from a 1950 Buick Roadmaster, and also gave it a one-of-a-kind design topped with a zeppelin-shaped motor intake.

"It's easily my favorite piece of (Bombshell Betty), as it gives her a real 'Mad-Max' kind of vibe. And if you're going racing in the desert, there's nothing more appropriate," wrote Andrew Maness, for the car magazine.

Competing in the XO/Gas Competition Coupe class, it broke a speed record at Bonneville Speedway in 2009 when it reached 130.838 mph, according to Hot Rod Magazine. It then broke its own record five more times, reaching an ultimate record speed of 165.735 mph in 2013.

Many features of the car were written after it was put up for auction in 2016. It eventually landed in the hands of Don Cash Jr., of Sandy. Cash began improving the vehicle three years ago but was unable to complete the project. He died while climbing Mount Everest in 2019.

Holm was a friend of Cash's and teamed up with his family to finish restorations and make the vehicle faster than ever before. It's also an opportunity for UVU students to work on a legendary ride.

Officials at the university said Wednesday that students studying all types of vehicle technology — from metal fabrication to engineering, aerodynamics, surface treatments and more fields — will work together to make it faster than ever before. The project began last month with the hope that it will continue to break records beginning at Bonneville Speedway's 2021 World Finals.

Bombshell Betty will also have another driver behind the wheel when that happens. Cash's daughter, Danielle, will pilot the machine when it's ready to go next year.

"It's an emotional ride for us to complete this car," Holm said. "I can't help but think Don is looking down on us and smiling to see his car being completed and driven by his daughter."

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Carter Williams

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