COVER STORY: EL MI­RAGE SCRAPBOOK

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Contents -

Lakes racing as it looked in 1948.

If hot rod cul­ture was born in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, then it de­vel­oped out in the desert wastes about 100 miles north­east of Los An­ge­les. El Mi­rage was one of sev­eral dry lakebeds in the vast Mo­jave Desert that had served as venues for the pre­war tim­ing meets held by the SCTA and the Rus­setta Tim­ing As­so­ci­a­tion. Start­ing in 1947, all meets were held there, and the dry lake be­came a mag­net for hot rodders and car clubs from all over the west. Kind of like a hot rod­der’s Burn­ing Man fes­ti­val, this large group of peo­ple would show up in the mid­dle of nowhere and bring with them their cre­ations. Much smoke, dust, and loud noise would en­sue. Many who were present were fa­mous or would be­come fa­mous names in mo­tors­ports and the world of af­ter­mar­ket speed equip­ment.

The fol­low­ing im­ages were taken by Lee Ham­mock. He is a well­known and re­spected mem­ber of the Cen­tral Coast racing com­mu­nity who was there in the early days of hot rodding. A mem­ber of the Santa Bar­bara Ac­cel­er­a­tion As­so­ci­a­tion, Ham­mock raced on the first dragstrips in the coun­try, and had a long ca­reer build­ing and racing all kinds of cars on all kinds of tracks, in­clud­ing quite a few Bon­neville Speed Weeks. One week­end in April 1948, Ham­mock and three or four friends piled into his 1937 Chevro­let coupe to wit­ness the SCTA meet at El Mi­rage. For­tu­nately for us, he took his cam­era with him.

Our thanks to Ham­mock for his gen­er­ously pro­vid­ing the im­ages used in this ar­ti­cle.

> Lee Ham­mock’s im­ages from El Mi­rage on an April week­end in 1948 are a true Way­back Ma­chine, trans­port­ing us to the im­me­di­ate post­war era of hot rodding and dry lakes racing.

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