Don Vesco


( -2002 )

1975 - Don Vesco and his Yamaha "Sliver Bird," the first motorcycle over 300 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Don Vesco holds Hot Rod Magazine's prestigious Top Time Trophy. He is the only person to have received this award for both a car and a motorcycle (322 mph 1978)
Early Vessco streamliner.
Don Vesco and his new at the time 1955 Triumph T100 R

The Vesco family has been racing at the Speed Trials on the Bonneville Salt Flats for most of their over fifty years long history. In 1957 John Vesco first raced what was then known as the Vesco-Dinkins streamliner, a car that evolved through the years to become the current Vesco-Nish 444 streamliner, presently undergoing yet another rebuild.
In subsequent years sons Don and Rick raced many streamliners, mostly motorcycle, and Don held the outright motorcycle land speed record from 1975 to 1990.
In the mid eighties they decided they should do something about the so called wheel-driven land speed record, then still held by the Summers Brothers' Goldenrod. Rick designed a new four wheel, four-wheel-drive streamliner, called Project 425 (this being the targeted speed), which appeared on the salt for the first time in 1989, then pushed by two small-block Chevys, which were quickly discarded in favour of two turbocharged Offy fours. The car ran for a number of years at Bonneville but never quite matched the expectations. In the meantime Al Teague had finally set a new wheel-driven LSR and other cars, like Rick and Nolan White's Spirit of Autopower and the massive four-engined Herbert-Steen streamliner, also looked like they could take the record any day, given the right salt conditions.

Date Location Driver Driver Country Vehicle Power Speed over
1 Km
Speed over
1 Mile
17 Sep 1970 Bonneville,   USA Don Vesco USA Yamaha IC 251.924    
1 Oct 1974 Bonneville,   USA Don Vesco USA Yamaha IC 281.714    
28 Sep 1975 Bonneville,   USA Don Vesco USA Yamaha Silver Bird IC 302.928    
23 Aug 1978 Bonneville,   USA Don Vesco USA Kawasaki Lightning Bolt IC 315.441    
25 Aug 1978 Bonneville,   USA Don Vesco USA Kawasaki Lightning Bolt IC 318.598    
1997 Bonneville World Finals Don Vesco USA Turbinator     400.833 Class T/III
Sanctioned by SCTA/BNI
1999 Bonneville World Finals Don Vesco USA Turbinator     427.832 Class T/III
Sanctioned by SCTA/BNI

October 18, 2001

Bonneville Salt Flats, USA

Don Vesco


T55-L-11A SA




Set new mark for wheel driven vehicles powered by a Turbine engine

Don Vesco died of cancer in 2002, defeated by an enemy he had been fighting while, or perhaps "by", setting new speed records. Team Vesco, under the direction of Rick Vesco, continued to race at Bonneville, and still does, setting records with a new version of the famous Vesco family 444 streamliner, but the project to break the 500 mph barrier with a wheel-driven record was put on hold, although Turbinator was maintained "ready to run" and will indeed make a "Don Vesco Memorial Run" at Speed Week 2011.

Discovery Channel video


Don Vesco's 1st Yamaha Streamliner 1963

Don Vesco 200 mph club 1963

Don Vesco & the Viper

We remember Don Vesco