El Mirage Photo Essay – Doin’ it in the Dirt
El Mirage Dry Lake has a long and glorious history in hot rodding. It’s a special place where man, woman, and machine throw caution to the wind in pursuit of speed. How did this happen?
Southern California Timing Association born in 1937, is an association of seven car clubs that banded together to legitimize racing on the dry lakes. Initially these intrepid pioneers of hot rodding met and raced at Muroc dry lake; however, Hitler and Tojo had other plans, and Muroc became a military base and has been ever since. Today the SCTA, the oldest sanctioned racing body in the United States, races at El Mirage dry lake, just a hop, skip and jump from Los Angeles. The November meet, like any other given year was the last event of the season.
El Mirage racers, like their uniquely crafted vehicles are as varied and diverse a group of personalities as the vehicles they race. Even the spectators watching the races are a patchwork quilt oddity. A mixture of new, off-the-line cars, hot rods, motorcycles, buggies, ultra-light aircraft, and even some that resemble the dystopian Mad Max War Boys can be observed roving the flat baked earth of the lakebed.
Some have referred to El Mirage as a long drag strip. Like Bonneville, records are set and broken. The “Dirty two” are the elite dirt devil racers who have broken records in the 200mph zone, and an even fewer have broken the 300mph barrier at the desert playa. A mighty feat when considering the limited amount of real estate a driver has to accomplish this deed.
While the fast cars making mighty steam are a sight, the small machines, mere teakettles compared their bigger counterparts are legion. Roadsters with four-bangers, inline-6 and inline-8s, lakesters, motorcycles, vintage vehicles and bikes of every description are all part of the El Mirage experience.
There are no TV crews, no cash prizes, just a timing slip and the euphoric quest for speed. And that is really what land speed racing is all about and if you have to ask…you just don’t get. Got it?
El Mirage Photo Extra!