Land speed record chief starter
They called him “Mr. Salt.” San Diego native Robert Frank Higbee was head starter at Bonneville from 1953 to his death in 2003, making sure every run was clean and safe. As chief starter, Higbee was part of the team that dragged the course smooth before every Speed Week, preparing an 18-mile stretch a quarter-mile wide. The longtime Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) board member arrived at dawn and stayed past the last run of the day. Higbee did the final inspection of each rig and cinched every driver’s belts. Ultimately, the greatest tribute to Higbee’s career is the remarkably low number of fatalities or serious injuries during the five-plus decades he presided over “The Fastest Place on Earth.” He received a standing ovation when he was presented a Lifetime Achievement award by the 200 MPH Club. "The racers are my family," Higbee told the Chicago Tribune. "I do what I can to see that they are safe." Inducted into the Dry Lakes Racing Hall of Fame in 1994.