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Can A Water-Logged Lincoln Hit 200MPH?

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Can A Water-Logged Lincoln Hit 200MPH?

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Can A Water-Logged Lincoln Hit 200MPH?

Can A Water-Logged Lincoln Hit 200MPH?

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The Stinkin Linkin has gone through many stages of development, from waterlogged flood-rescue to speed racer. Courtesy J.T. Nesbitt hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy J.T. Nesbitt

The Stinkin Linkin has gone through many stages of development, from waterlogged flood-rescue to speed racer.

Courtesy J.T. Nesbitt

J.T. Nesbitt hopes that on its next attempt, the Stinkin Linkin will run at 200 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats — making it the world's fastest Lincoln. Amy Jet hide caption

toggle caption Amy Jet

J.T. Nesbitt hopes that on its next attempt, the Stinkin Linkin will run at 200 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats — making it the world's fastest Lincoln.

Amy Jet

Nesbitt, who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, says that working on the Stinkin Linkin "is not just my revenge, but also how in my weird way I get my world back together." Amy Jet hide caption

toggle caption Amy Jet

Nesbitt, who lost everything in Hurricane Katrina, says that working on the Stinkin Linkin "is not just my revenge, but also how in my weird way I get my world back together."

Amy Jet

New Orleans is often referred to as one of the last remaining bohemias in America. But what does that mean?

"The definition of a 'bohemia' is that you do your work so you can eat, and then you have your secret life where you soar," explains bartender J.T. Nesbitt, whose very existence embodies this definition.

Nesbitt works as a bartender at Flanagan's Pub in the French Quarter. But a few blocks away, in a warehouse on Esplanade, is where he spends his "secret life." Nesbitt and a motley crew of mechanics are attempting to break a world land speed record with a vehicle that was destroyed by the floodwaters of Katrina. They've named the car "Stinkin Linkin," because it smelled like a "sack of dead rats."

"The Stinkin Linkin was a flooded-out 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII that came from Gentilly, and she got about a foot and a half of water inside the car," says Nesbitt. "When I saw the car flooded out in the driveway, I said, 'Of course. This needs to be a race car.'"

Although Nesbitt had never built a race car, he was no stranger to speed. In 2005, he was one of the most famous motorcycle designers in the world. He worked for a company in New Orleans called Confederate Motorcycles, where he designed a ground-breaking bike called The Wraith. Celebrities like Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise came to him to purchase the outrageously expensive creations.

Nesbitt's meteoric rise came to a sudden crash when everything he owned was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, including the building that housed Confederate Motorcycles. He was dining in a palace in the Middle East during the storm, because he had been invited by the Prince of Bahrain to discuss a million-dollar motorcycle deal.

When he returned, he decided that rather than rebuild his business, he'd drive the Stinkin Linkin from New Orleans to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. He and his friends documented the journey in the film Salt Dreams, which tracks every step of the disastrous 2,000 mile journey. At one point the car begins to leak oil so badly that they have to drill a hole next to the passenger seat so they can fill the engine with oil while they are driving. When they arrive at the Salt Flats, the car makes it to 162 mph, but then spins out of control and comes to a stop in the blinding light of the salt flats.

"If Bonneville teaches you anything, it's that you don't get it right the first time," he says.

Nesbitt and the New Orleans racing team are planning a second attempt at a record, but this time he is simply aiming to break 200 mph, which would make his car the world's fastest Lincoln.

"If our car goes 200 mph at Bonneville this year, I think I am going to feel something that I haven't felt since I lost everything," says Nesbitt. "This is not just my revenge, but also how in my weird way I get my world back together. That's the only way that I and, I think, we as a community are going to be able to come through this, is through ambition, through setting goals and achieving them at all costs."

Nesbitt's new focus has taken a toll on his bank account; he has maxed out all his credit cards, and he's tending bar to make ends meet. But he insists he doesn't regret giving up the world of princes and palaces for the dream of speed in the Stinkin Lincoln.

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