Cars have a unique place in American cultural history, and this year Boyne City resident John McLeod took his place by earning a Class A license at Bonneville Flats.
“I own Classic Instruments in Boyne City, I was testing a Bonneville special gauge,” said McLeod. “It’s a speedometer that works using GPS that can be used in a race car, I was testing out how the driver can see the instrument.”
Classic Instruments employs 27 people in Boyne City, and manufactures gauges for racing cars and some marine equipment as well.
“I moved here in 1975 from Royal Oak, I was a police officer in Boyne City for 16 years and I retired early so I could pursue my dream,” said McLeod. “Just to be part of that was such a special thing for me, and to acquire my A license is such a cool thing, in our world, it’s kind of a rite of passage, or a medal on your chest.”
McLeod has been involved in racing for several years, and travels to many different racing events to help other drivers work on cars.
“I went 206 mph it’s called getting your A license, in order to get that you have to go 200 mph for over a mile, we did it for three miles,” said McLeod. “I did it in a 32 Ford Roadster, it’s a friend’s car, I was working with them at Bonneville together doing trial runs and prepping a new vehicle.”
Safety is a number one priority at Bonneville, although unfortunately accidents do happen.
“I had a friend crash at just under 270 mph, it completely destroyed the car, and he was in the hospital,” said McLeod. “He completely compressed his back, when accidents happen everyone holds their breath.”
McLeod believes that when it comes to racing safety equipment is not an area to cut costs.
“You have to respect the area, and we make sure that the best safety equipment used is possible,” said McLeod. “I’ve strapped more than one of my friends in and sent them off, it reminds me of sending the monkey into space.”
Maintaining and keeping a car like McLeod’s is a labor of love, as there really are no tangible rewards for these achievements.
“There are different levels in racing, there are no trophies, prizes, or winners,” said McLeod. “It makes no sense what we do, you’re out there from sunup to sundown with no shade, it feels like a lot of work but the camaraderie of friends and racers helping each other really makes things worthwhile.”