A Story about never giving up on your dreams

In 1947, at the age of 17, Don Breidenbach was young, energetic and full of passion, He had a love for life, for family and for fast cars.  Being an entrepreneur from an early age, Don started a business building custom carburetor linkage in his mother’s garage and selling them in Hot Rod Magazine.  The sales helped fund his 1932 Ford V-8 Deuce Roadster. Living in California in the age of Hot Rod racing meant racing on the dry lakes in Southern California. El Mirage was home for the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA), Don and his fellow Glendale Sidewinders Hot Rod club members raced in every event trying win the annual championship.

Don and his 1932 Deuce Roadster featured in Hot Rod Magazine in 1951.

Don and his 1932 Deuce Roadster featured in Hot Rod Magazine in 1951.

Having participated from 1947 to 1951 at El Mirage, reaching a top speed of 129.87 mph, the dream of racing on Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats became the next goal.

But, as many of us experience, life tends to get in the way of our dreams, and Don was no different. He had a young wife and 5 children at home in addition to responsibility of running the family business.

Bonneville was left for the next year, and then the year after that…

 …Until 2010.

Don found himself at home watching the movie,  “The World’s Fastest Indian.”  This is the story of New Zealander, Burt Munro, who spent years building a 1920 Indian motorcycle – a bike which helped him set the land speed world record at Bonneville in 1967. During one of the scenes, Don saw a bold aircraft belly tank speedster driven by a dear friend, Bill Phy from his early racing days driving in the background. Memories raced back into his mind. In 1956 Don had loaned the engine from his Deuce Roadster to his friend because his wife was expecting their third child and racing was put on hold for the rest of the year.

Don wasn’t one for being idle, for letting life just pass him by and he remembered everything. The sight of his friend from 55 years earlier and the belly tanker brought tears to Don’s eyes, but the sight also rekindled the dream to drive again at Bonneville.

He spent months researching his actual goal and the vehicle to reach that goal.Having just celebrated his 80th birthday, the dream had matured.  Don not only wanted to drive on the salt again, he wanted to drive over 200 mph.

Don selected a 2009 Nissan GT-R with racing provenance for the project.  Work began preparing her for the salt experience – safety items, different transmission gears, turbos, wheels and tires.  The car, named Serenity, made its maiden voyage at El Mirage in 2013, driven by Bill Guzenski.Don made his maiden run at Mojave Mile in May of 2014. In anticipation of running at Bonneville, Don participated in events at El Mirage where he gained the necessary experience to run off-road. In August Don and his team made the trek to Bonneville for one week of racing.  Mother Nature took a turn and after flash flooding, the SCTA Bonneville Speed Week was canceled.

But as always, patience and persistence paid off.

September’s event, hosted by the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association, offered an opportunity to take Serenity out onto the salt.  66 years after starting out with his Deuce Roadster, Don successfully made 5 passes over 200 mph.

Don was looking forward to a full season in 2015, especially the 2015 SCTA Bonneville Speed Week. This was not to be. Don became ill in January and passed away March 5, surrounded by his family.

He may be gone but will not be forgotten.

 20140904_121332  Mojave Mile - DLB

UTAH SALT FLATS RACING ASSOCIATION

WORLD OF SPEED 2014 All Runs –Short Course, 130 Club & 150 Club — Monday Sept 8, 2014

CAR DRIVER CLASS RECORD 130 CLUB 1ST MILE QTR UNITS 2ND MILE UNITS
237 DONALD L BREIDENBACH E/PS 256.789 158.066 179.437 198.408 MPH 207.285 MPH
237 DONALD L BREIDENBACH E/PS 256.789 156.230 177.948 199.316 MPH 204.524 MPH
237 DONALD L BREIDENBACH E/PS 256.789 160.993 180.091 201.330 MPH 205.640 MPH
Don’s approach to life was summed up in one of his favorite statements:  “Life is a sum of your experiences – it is about the people we touch and are touched by”.  He got it right!

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Timing placques from El Mirage 1949 - 1951

Timing placques from El Mirage 1949 – 1951