Two Ecotec-powered vehicles set land speed records yesterday while a third qualified to try and break its own record yet again.

GM Performance Division engineer and driver Mark Dickens shattered the record he set on Sunday, Aug. 13 in the G/BFALT class (G Class/Blown Fuel Altered Coupe) with a speed of 246.849 mph in the Chevy So-Cal Cobalt SS, more than 28 mph better than his previous mark of 218.392 mph.

The E85-powered Bonneville Student Project Cobalt SS again qualified to try and break its previous record in the G/FCC class (G Class/Unblown Fuel Competition Coupe) with a 171.074 mph run by using E85 ethanol with a nitrous oxide boost. This morning, Dickens will look to push the car to a 170+ mph record.

Both vehicles are powered by the Ecotec 2.0-liter LSJ engine, but the Student Cobalt is based off the naturally-aspirated version.

The Haas Roadster, owned by Haas Racing and built in partnership with So-Cal Speed Shop, set a new record in the G/BFMR class (G Class/Blown Fuel Modified Roadster) with a speed of 196.106 mph. The Haas Roadster features a 2.0-liter Ecotec turbo and was driven by team member David Haas.

"The Ecotec engine is one of the most adaptable and durable engines in the marketplace, and it continues to prove it’s mettle on the hallowed Salt Flats," said GM Performance Division executive Al Oppenheiser, whose team heads up GM’s efforts at Bonneville. "We even had one impartial member of the media call the engine ’bulletproof’ yesterday, which is a testament to our powertrain organization."

The Ecotec engine is suited to all levels of off-road racing competition, and in the past four years, has now set Bonneville land speed records in eight different classes.

Three female engineering student interns - 19-year-old Heather Chemistruck from Virginia Tech University, 21-year-old Lauren Zimmer from Purdue University and 21-year-old Sandra Saldivar of New Mexico State University - have yet to lose with the E85-powered Student Project Cobalt at Bonneville since their car has qualified or set a record every time out.

The three students converted the Cobalt to run on E85 for 2006 and broke a 19-year-old 152.626 mph record set by Doc Jeffries in 1987 using only E85 ethanol. Since breaking Jeffries’ record, they have combined the E85 with a nitrous oxide system and are on the verge of upping their record for the second time.

"This is unreal," said Saldivar. "Going into this event, we knew we had a very good car that was capable of setting records, but to qualify or set a record on every run, is a testament to the entire Student Project Cobalt crew."

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