I discovered (re-discovered?) dry lakes racing quite by accident. We were at a Road Kings car show in Burbank one year and Ken Walkey had brought his streamliner to exhibit. He had a flyer on a Muroc Reunion event coming up the next weekend. This flyer talked about inviting hot rods up to make a (slow) pass down the course. I managed to talk him out of it, applied for entry, and went up. It was fascinating! I talked to a number of racers and found out about the regular meets at El Mirage (the Muroc reunion was a short-lived event held on what is now Edwards AFB). Got a little lost on the way home and ran across the road to El Mirage. Talk about serendipity.

The next El Mirage meet found me there, wandering around like a lost puppy. I finally ended up at the Tech trailer where I asked how somebody got started in this sort of racing. He asked me where I lived and, when I answered "the San Diego Area," he told me to go find somebody with San Diego Roadster Club on their racecar and see if they'd talk to me. I went up to the starting line and started pestering this gentleman with a red and yellow modified roadster. Jack Harvey, bless his heart, answered my questions (some of which pain me to recall), patiently explained how the race was organized, and finally invited me to come to a meeting of the club. I did, liked what I saw, and never stopped. Went to more El Mirage meets, met lots of racers and helpers, helped the friends I made in the club, and then -- one day as I was bemoaning how long it would take to turn my Mustang into a racecar -- someone said to me, "Why don't you race the Deuce?" Umm, why not indeed?

image010

This is Martha's 1932 Ford 5-window coupe, Ruby, before she got painted. This is the setup my son James and I ran there several times. Best speed was 117 mph running a stock Mustang 5.0 EFI engine. Hell of a ride when the wind catches the front fenders and it starts wandering all over the dirt. This car later became the donor of several street engines to the Mustang -- as soon as we blew up an engine in the racecar, we'd yank the engine out of Ruby. I almost had an engine in it a couple of times. I finally got another engine for here right now -- 302 Ford, of course, made from bits and bobs from previous race engines. Installed and running at last!

In July 2004, I ran the Mustang through tech inspection at El Mirage to make sure that the car would be ready for Bonneville the next month. Whoa! I ended up with a list of seven "DO THIS OR DON"T COME" items to correct. They let me run the car, very slowly. I think I did 132 my second run that day. Boy, was I busy for the next month!

The picture below is the Mustang at El Mirage in September, 2006 (also before paint). We got two runs that day. I managed 155 or so on this run (the car is entering the timing trap here). I was off the gas as much as I was on it, trying to keep the car going straight.

ElMirage0609

The next run, as I was approaching the traps, I decided to just keep my foot on the gas and hope for the best. I pulled the parachute release just as I crossed the line between the cones. At the same time, the rear end washed out to the right. I steered into the skid, got the rear end coming back to the left. Over-corrected, of course, so I had to give it left steering to try to bring it back straight again ... when the chute blossomed! Jerked the rear of the car completely around. A quick glimpse down the track where I had started and then I was in a huge cloud of dust. Threw in the clutch, held the wheel straight, and waited.

Boy do you attract attention when you spin out at El Mirage. On the plus side, after the Tech guys heard my story they went out to inspect the track near the timing trap and decided that it was unsafe to run any more cars.

Oh, yes. I did 163 this time. The record is 183 or so and is likely out of sight, especially now that I've retired the Mustang. However, my nephew is going to take it over maybe later in 2012 and, who knows, it might find it's way from Carson City back down to El Mirage again.