Words and photos by Chhun Tang
A couple of weekends ago we went out to El Mirage for the second day of opening weekend of the land speed race season. They open with a two day weekend event and they close with a two day event as well. Between, they do one day races. Unfortunately, due to high winds, we didn't see much racing because they called it off around 11am. And although we didn't get to see any racing we did get to walk around and see the all sorts of awesome vehicles and met some great people. We bumped into Kiyo from Kiyo's Garage in Gardena and was humbled to meet Shinya Kimura.
It was amazing to see the diversity of people entering the races, most of whom didn't have big sponsors. These guys dedicate so much of their time and effort into building machines with the sole purpose of going fast. Many of the same people and teams go out to El Mirage as well as the Bonneville salt flats for Speed Week. Most of you are already familiar with it, but for those of you who aren't, it's worth checking out at least once.
Watching the races doesn't cost anything but there is an access fee to get into the area, which is $15 per car. It's a little over an hour outside of LA so it's not too far and works out to be a good one day trip. Definitely bring plenty of water and beer and because it's sunny and mostly hot, bring your shades and a hat. There's a food vendor out there serving up stuff like hot dogs, chili dogs, hamburgers and other healthy food. There was also an ice cream truck driving around which, out there, was even better than it sounds.
Looking forward to the next time we can get out there!
Here's a little bit about the area of El Mirage from the BLM website:
The El Mirage Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) Area is located in the Mojave Desert on the western edge of San Bernardino County near the Los Angeles County Line. This Off-Highway vehicle area attracts a variety of Activities.
The areas of interests include El Mirage Dry Lakebed, the Shadow Mountains, El Mirage Basin, and the Twin Hills area. This makes up a 24,000 acre of public and private land. Elevations range from about 2,800 feet at the El Mirage Dry Lake to more that 3,800 feet in the Shadow Mountains.
The lakebed is a flat playa formed in an undrained basin. Silt and clay are deposited into this basin during periods of heavy rain. When the "lake" dries, a hard pan dry lakebed is left.
This hard, smooth surface is ideal for the unique activities conducted at El Mirage. These include ultra-light aircraft and gyrocopter flying, model rocketry, remote control airplane flying, landsailing and straight track racing. Many private pilots land on the lakebed to spend the day. The surface character has attracted the interest of many filming companies. Several major movies have scenes filmed here.
There is no speed limit on the open lakebed, but vehicle operators are responsible for their own safety, OHV rules and regulations, and knowing what is going on around them. The maximum speed limit is 15 miles per hour within 50 feet of camps and staging areas.
You can find out more here.
And click here for the full schedule for the year if you're interested in checking out one of the future events.