Where it All Began: A Trip to EL Mirage

I call myself a hot rodder, but somehow had never made the trip to the historic El Mirage dry lake in my time living in Southern California until the SCTA’s final meet of 2018. El Mirage is synonymous with the earliest days of car culture, where many young individuals obsessed with speed came to see just how fast their modified vehicles would go. These hallowed grounds are a special place to our hobby—a place where the legends of hot rodding cut their teeth and learned the elusive secrets of speed while inadvertently creating a phenomenon that inspired a wave of car fanatics all across our nation.

This was essentially the very birthplace of hot rodding, making it sacred to someone like me, and driving out onto the almost alien surface of hard-packed silt, I couldn’t help but feel a little unworthy of being there in my jalopy. However, owning and building a hot rod has always been about doing what you can with what you have, and land-speed racers perhaps exhibit this mentality better than anyone there is. The culture may look different than it used to, with so many different types of enthusiasts and varying paths to this lifestyle, but the spirit driven by our unexplainable love for these machines remains the same. Those very hot rodders who have entered the legendary 200 MPH Club welcomed me with friendly smiles, firm handshakes, and hearty laughs as I told them about my car, proving yet again that anything can be a hot rod after all.

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