In May of ‘97 the Brits had made a return trip to Jordan for more shakedown runs – they managed to get the SSC up to 540 mph, which was apparently all that patchy surface could handle – and they were treated like royalty. Pomp and circumstance is not much in evidence in Gerlach, NV when the Thrust SSC mates first arrive. The Brits are homeless. Gerlach is a town of 300 – counting the scorpions – and lodging is sketchy. There is one motel, Bruno’s, which is also the name of the bar and the coffee shop, all of which are tagged eponymously for the town czar, a lanky, bent elderly Italian with the kind of disposition only slightly surlier than that of Benito Mussolini’s. Despite Thrust SSC’s scout team undertaking a reconnaissance trip in April to secure the permits and lodging crucial to their mission, it has all turned to shit: Bruno double-booked all the available lodging and ultimately rented his rooms to the highest bidder: the SOA contingent.