About this project
We are getting great FEEDBACK on the Project, with LOTS of people checking out the video. PLEASE MAKE A PLEDGE! If everyone who watched the video pledged just ONE DOLLAR - We'd already be funded!! We don't get any of the funds unless we hit our goal - and we won't be able to RACE if we don't get any funds, so please give us your help! As much as we love the Facebook likes, we can't rent trailers or buy gasoline with them!
THANKS TO OUR SUPPORTERS!!
For those with a more pressing technical interest in the Carpool DeVille, please feel free to jump ahead to The Build section, found later in this description.
This all started in 1996 with an abandoned car, a keg of beer, and a quote from Ernest Hemingway:
“Always do sober what you say you’d do drunk, that’s the only way you’ll learn”
The car was a 1982 Chevy Malibu, abandoned at a student house by a deadbeat subletter who skipped out on the rent. We were just a humble bunch of McMaster University engineering undergrads, and faced with the prospect of paying someone to haul it away, a decision was reached on the fate of the car – we’d cut off the roof, and turn it into the world’s first driveable, fully operational hot tub: The Carpool.
We laughed, we clinked glasses, marveled at the idea, and called it a night. Admittedly, we never thought it would come to be but the next morning people started showing up at the house with power tools – and the legend of The Carpool was born.
For the next few years, The Carpool was a local hero: parked at parties on and off campus, in the end-zone of the homecoming game, anywhere that good times were being had. The best part was always the looks on people’s faces when they saw how well these two great North American pastimes go together: hot tubs and driving. While somewhat dubious in its execution (we were just students after all; of limited means and experience), our quirky little project always made people smile.
At the 2001 Canadian International Auto Show, the Carpool was a prize exhibit, and we accepted a challenge from some representatives from the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA)--the major sanctioning body of the land speed racing community: If we could get The Carpool to the Bonneville Salt Flats that August, and run the course, they would help get us the Land Speed Record for the "World’s Fastest Hot Tub".
That Carpool didn’t make it to Bonneville that year, or any other year. By 2004, time and the effects of undergraduate plumbing had ravaged the chassis beyond repair – the car would never be made raceable.
Several attempts were made to replace The Carpool Mk.I, but none came close to racing: in 2005, a series 75 stretch Cadillac Limo was bought sight-unseen, off eBay. Hopes were high that this could be the New Carpool, but that car vanished from where it was parked one winter. Inspired by images of the original, other students converted cars to tubs on wheels, ‘cargo cult’ recreations of what they’d only seen in brochures. In Germany, some guy even converted a Bimmer. None of these were serious Land Speed Record contenders.
Time passes. Dreams fade, but legends never die, and the taste for racing runs deep. Hemingway said "there are but three true sports--bullfighting, mountain climbing and motor racing. The rest are merely games."
By 2008, a critical mass of Carpool engineers had assembled on the West Coast, and an appropriate car (a rained-out 1969 Coupe DeVille Convertible) was procured. The Carpool DeVille (Mk.III) was born. Over the next six years, the team worked to ready the car, improving its heating, suspension, controls and pool plumbing, while working with the land speed racing community to ensure The Carpool DeVille would meet SCTA’s strict safety requirements.
Along the way, The Carpool DeVille began to do what Carpools do best: make friends and inspire people. It’s been great to see the smiles again, the recognition that no challenge is insurmountable, and great things are possible when you have tools, and talent, and a goal to shoot for.
Racing is expensive, and land speed record racing is all the moreso because they only do it properly once a year in one location six-hundred miles from the Carpool's home base. While we've borne the considerable costs (in time, money and tears) of constructing the car ourselves, we're looking for your help with specific expenses associated with getting to the Bonneville salt flats for Speedweek 2014. This includes - but will surely not be limited to - week-long rentals of tow vehicles, trailer and RV ($3,500), fuel for the aforementioned vehicles ($1,500), car and driver safety gear required by the race officials ($2,000), food and incidentals ($1,000), race fees and club memberships ($1,000) and auxiliary equipment (like water tanks, tie downs, and sun shades) ($1,000).
Any funds raised in excess of the $10,000 goal of the campaign will be used to subsidize attendance of the race by current and willing McMaster University undergraduate engineering students (because really, this is about the future), as well as to begin to reimburse some of the capital that has been invested into the car over the years.
The Bonneville Salt Flats are a wonder of the natural world and one of numerous unique geological elements in the rich and diverse canvas that is the Southwestern United States. Sometime in the Pliestocene epoch, Lake Bonneville was nearly as large as modern day Lake Michigan and was up to 1000 feet deep. Lake Bonneville was not actually a lake but an endorheic basin, meaning that it, instead of the ocean, is the final destination for rainwater owing to its low elevation. Collected minerals create high levels of salinity. About 15,000 years ago, changes in erosion patterns caused the Red Rock Pass in Idaho to give way, spilling fifteen million cubic feet per minute of the briny contents of Lake Bonneville through the present day Snake River towards the northwestern Pacific ocean. Evaporation reduced what remained of Lake Bonneville to a number of modern-day smaller endorheic basins, as well as enormous salt deposits in northwestern Utah. Since 1914, enthusiasts of questionable mental states from all over the world have been attempting and setting speed records for just about anything with wheels on the flat expanse of brilliant white salt. The long course is more than seven miles long and routinely sees custom racers known as "streamliners" reach over 400 mph. Craig Breedlove's Spirit of America series were the first turbojet powered cars and in 1965 reached 600 mph on the salt flats. Contrary to popular belief, the world's first supersonic land speed record (held by Andy Green in ThrustSSC) was not set at Bonneville, but rather in the Black Rock Desert in northern Nevada. We'll save that location for another year.
2014 marks a century of speed records at Bonneville. The Salt has seen its share of streamliners, speedster motorcycles, vehicles powered by electricity, fuel cells, rockets and jet engines. But it's never seen anything quite like this. Nobody's ever gone a hundred miles an hour in an open-air self propelled hot tub while sitting neck deep in soothing warm water. We aim to correct that mistake of history this August.
We are Duncan Forster and Phil Weicker, and are the principals on the Carpool DeVille project. We met in 1997 in Hamilton, Canada as engineering students at McMaster University. While we were there, we made sure that school would never get in the way of getting an education. In the years since, we've each taken wholly different paths to both wind up in the City of Angels. We immediately got back up to our old tricks (and a few new ones) and are now ready to fulfill a dream nearly two decades in the making.
McMaster Engineering alum Alex Saegert is a founding member of Mark I and All Things Carpool since. He is stationed in Vancouver and so hasn't had the same level of day-in, day-out hands-on contact with Carpool DeVille. However, his zealous support for the Land Speed Record project has never wavered, and in its darkest hours over the years, his has been a vital tenor in the soft chorus of voices that always said, "Hang on".
This section is probably only interesting to the more technically inclined viewing audience, but it details the genesis of the car from its more than humble beginnings to what it looks like now.
Risks and challenges
Our goal is to run on the SCTA course at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, and set the world record for the “World’s Fastest Hot Tub,” using our heavily modified 1969 Cadillac Coupe DeVille. We’re obligated by the good people at Kickstarter to give you a full accounting of the risks (as we perceive them) that despite your kind contributions may prevent us from achieving our stated goal:
1. The Carpool may experience a mechanical failure close to or on race day. At the time of writing, road tests and sea trials of The Carpool DeVille are underway, but are not complete. As such, reliability and durability test data for critical systems have not been collected, processed or validated. A failure of one or more critical systems to meet performance requirements on race day may mean that we can’t race for the record. That said, we've put extreme care into building this car. Phil and Duncan are talented welders, machinists, mechanics, and yes, even engineers. We've been known to pull fixes for last minute problems out of nowhere in the past and that Macgyverism will be readily available to us at Bonneville, as it might be needed.
2. We may arrive at the Bonneville Salt Flats, and be denied entry to the SCTA course. The chances of this are slim, given that this is community is known for racing everything from motorized bar stools, to sofas, to toilets, but at the end of the day, it’s their course, and their right to decide if we can race for the record.
3. We may charm our way onto the course, and still be disqualified for some technical non-conformance or safety violation. To mitigate this, we went through the SCTA’s rule book with a fine-toothed magnifying glass, and built The Carpool to comply accordingly. The Carpool incorporates a roll cage, safety equipment, throttle and brake control parts fabricated by SCTA affiliated vendors, and a host of other features. We’re engineers, but dammit Captain, we’re not miracle workers! We absolutely respect the safety record of the SCTA, and its members’ zero-tolerance for unsafe vehicles or behaviour at this event, and will not run for the record if there is judged to be any risk to our driver, or any other competitor’s safety.
4. We may be allowed to race, but not achieve speeds sufficient to set a record. This depends on how the world record people classify The Carpool. We feel that it is in a class of its own, but if our category of speed record ends up being defined according to traditional land speed racing categories (engine displacement, furniture class, etc.,) we may not be competitive. Serious racers spend thousands more on their entries, and won’t have to haul a couple of tons of water with them down the course.
In the event that any or all of the potential events listed above come true, we intend to honour our commitments to our Lead, Tin, Aluminum, Chromium and Copper-level sponsors, minus the provenance and cachet of a World Land Speed Record title.
You're supporting a land speed record attempt, and attempt we shall. Some attempts succeed and others fail. If we are unable to make our attempt as planned - ie: If we fail to make it up to the Salt Flats with the Carpool in tow - all funds in excess of expenses incurred will be donated to the Save the Salt Coalition (www.savethesalt.org) so that future generations can enjoy land speed record racing at Bonneville.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Because we can!
We choose not to do the things we do because they are easy, but because they are hard. And because they are fun. Overcoming obstacles and having fun are two of life's nobler pursuits. It's easy to forget about the second one.
Seriously, isn't there some type of medication you could take that would make you think more clearly?
We tried it, but it left a funny taste in Duncan's mouth and made Phil's hair fall out in clumps. Rather than risk pharmaceutical uncertainty, we chose to forge ahead with our plans to race the Carpool DeVille.
Almost all of it. Even things you'd not have suspected, like spray painting the body (and nearly every other component), making the custom fiberglass molds for the tub and other components, machining, welding, engine and chassis work, shooting and scoring the video was done by ourselves, or some very handy and talented friends.