Belly Over to Bonneville
When the Lakester (above), made of an F-4 Phantom's fuel tank, flew down the runways at Vandenberg Air Force Base for a taping of Monster Garage, it was among the latest "belly-tank racers" to honor a hotrodding tradition begun in 1946 by adapting the drop tank of a P-51. At the end of World War II, thousands of belly or wing-mounted fuel tanks once used for the long-range ferrying of aircraft became surplus, and the shape caught the eye of returning airmen seeking thrills on the Bonneville Salt Flats. In its 65-year run the fad has been immortalized by Hot Wheels and now reawakened with restorations as well as new designs.
USAF/Airman Barry Loo