Like many properties in Española, Jeff Brock’s yard is filled with old, beat-up cars, many of which haven’t run in decades…But a few do, like Bombshell Betty, a 1952 Buick Super Riviera that holds several U.S. land speed records.
Brock has pushed the souped-up vehicle to an average of 165.7 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, a record for its class.
A jeweler and sculptor, Brock was successful at racing from the start, even though Bombshell Betty was his first car modified for racing.
He hails from Flint, Mich., and ran an electrical contracting business there that he sold to spend a year traveling the country on a motorcycle. During his travels, he found Northern New Mexico and made his home here 12 years ago…
Brock, a tall man with a solid build and tattoo-covered arms, speaks with a faint Midwestern accent. He says he’s funding his racing through the sales of his artwork…He sees racing as an extension of his art. “It’s about the satisfaction of the creation and the ability to power it under extreme speed,” he says…
In late 2008, he decided to build a car. He bought the shell of what would be become Bombshell Betty…The car had been side-swiped and was a crumpled mess, but today the sleek, silver Buick in his garage bears none of its old scars.
It’s also clear from the lack of headlights, lowered chassis and the air-swoop that resembles a rocket that Betty wasn’t built for regular roadways.
The salt flats are hot and unrelentingly bright. Brock had no idea what to expect. He hadn’t yet driven the car and just hoped it would be able to complete some runs without causing serious bodily harm. But in his first race, he broke a land speed record in his division — 129 mph…
Since then, he’s been back almost every year, tweaking Betty’s design every time and breaking more records in the process. He’s pushed Betty to speeds more than 36 mph faster in the intervening years and thinks she still has more in her. Most recently, he installed a back fin that helps reduce the air drag. Brock never knows if his engineering tweaks will work until he gets to Bonneville.
RTFA. More interesting stuff about the car. And about Jeff Brock. A Renaissance man, New Mexico-style.