It was finally time to fire up the V8s and weenie roasters again, as the SCTA racing season kicked off at El Mirage last weekend. For too long have all the low-down, hopped-up, fire-breathing streamline machines lay dormant, patiently waiting for the lakebed to dry up and turn back into their race track.
Because no good story starts without roaring through canyon roads, we took the long way over through La Canada on the Angeles Crest Highway, the poor wildlife awoken bright and early thanks to magic of the internal combustion engine. Bursting through the shade and fog and into the sunshine we hightailed it across the desert to the most important stop on the trip – the liquor store. With beer and ice packed away we finally made it onto the lakebed and unfolded our deck chairs.
Conditions were great for the first round of the years’ racing. Crisp skies and limited wind on Saturday saw plenty of 200mph+ runs. Jake Jacobs was rolling around in the Jake-oupage tub, a few Los Angeles locals made their way over including Johnny Carrillo (whose roadster is in the latest issue – get your hands on it!) and Fabian and the Vintage Hammer boys. All those great cars were at home amongst the Hop Up crew and I could swear that if you took a photo, you wouldn’t be able to pick the year.
That infamous El Mo wind picked up, and that meant it was time to crack open the cold ones and fire up the grill for our first official Hop Up Weenie Roast. With all the chewed fingernails and theories on the salt health at Bonneville, we decided to bring the long-standing traditional dog roast closer to home. Many a beer was drank as many a tall tale was told. Old timers stopped by to see what the fuss was all about and a good mix of generations swapped stories, laughs and well wishes for the next day’s racing.
The baritone choir of V8 engines set the morning alarm, and even though the wind was still howling, racing was on. I’m sure if you’d put a sail on the top of your car, you could’ve picked up an extra couple miles through the lights. It was blowing over 30mph at one point, but fortunately it was a tailwind. If there was ever a time to bring home a record or a 2 Club hat, this was it.
A few got close. Really, really close. Like 0.04mph close. But I suppose that’s racing.
It was another full day of racing and battling the sandblasting wind, and it was a good thing. Some fast passes, some steep learning curves and an even better time seeing old buddies made for the perfect start to the season. As all the trucks and trailers faded off into the dust and back onto the tarmac, I’d bet my last penny there were smiles for miles, even if they were covered in sand.