Motivational speaker Tony Christiansen found the inspiration for his most ambitious, and most expensive, motorsports challenge while watching a movie.

Travelling the world for speaking engagements, the Tauranga double amputee watched The World's Fastest Indian, and not just once.

 Tony's modified drag racer called Toenails

Tony's modified drag racer called Toenails

"I sat on Air New Zealand flights for three months and saw it 27 times," said Christiansen.

At some point the movie flipped Christiansen's "I could do that" switch and this August he will attempt to reach 200mph (321kmh) on the famed Bonneville salt flats in Utah.

Christiansen is among a group of Kiwi speedsters looking to follow in the tyre tracks of the legendary Burt Munro at the 60th anniversary of the Bonneville Nationals speed trials.

A contingent of seven cars and three motorcycles is planning to make the journey from New Zealand.

Once this weekend's annual Bay Rodders Nostalgia drag race meeting at Meremere is completed, Christiansen will begin the process of modifying his C/Altered drag racer into a salt flats racer.

His car needs to be loaded into a shipping container by mid-June to make it to California by the first week of August.

"I've been studying the rules, reading them backwards and upside down to make sure we've covered everything," he said.

"I've had lots of help from Bill Ward and the Harris family who've been to Bonneville before.

"They've told me how it works and what to expect.

"I don't see having no legs as an issue. There are two other guys in wheelchairs who've run 250mph so I see no problem."

Christiansen will take a car designed for drag racing on a quarter-mile strip to the eight mile (13km) long course on the vast salt flats.

"I have really enjoyed drag racing and part of the challenge of this will be taking a car from one environment and modifying it to race in another environment.

"It's exactly what we did last year when I took the speedway saloon to the `Race to the Sky' at Queenstown," he said.

"We had a car that was never designed to turn right and took it to the top of the mountain.

"People said we'd struggle to do it in 12 minutes and I was actually one and half minutes better than that."

Aerodynamics are a key part of reaching high speeds.

For that reason the dragster's '23 T-Bucket body will be replaced by a more streamlined '27 Model A roadster body.

It'll run on the same methanol injected 355 Chev V8 raced on the dragstrip, with taller gearing and special narrow tyres for the slippery salt flats.

American safety standards are higher than New Zealand and Flamecrusher are helping out with a new safety suit and an on-board fire system.

Christiansen also has to upgrade to a higher specification parachute capable of deploying at more than 200mph.

The car will be shipped to Los Angeles.

"We'll pick up the car in LA, get a trailer and tow it behind a camper van to Wendover in Utah," said Christiansen.

"I'll have to do the rookie orientation programme where you have to do progressive runs at 100, 150 and 175mph on the short (five mile) course before you get the full license and they let you race."

As the name suggests, Speedweek runs for seven days and there were 473 entries last year.

With 60th anniversary being celebrated this year a record field is expected.

"I'm not out to set records," says Christiansen.

"I believe I'll have a car capable of running 200mph and I'd like to get the cap, pin and certificate as a member of the 200mph club."

The record for an alcohol roadster like Christiansen's is 252mph.

"For me its all about participation, getting out there and meeting a challenge and doing it.

"It puts another tick in the book for me.

"The goal is 200mph. It's a realistic goal for the car we've got as it already does 150mph on the quarter-mile dragstrip.

"If I can do 200.001mph that will be good enough for me."

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