Action-packed weekend at El Mirage and NHRA drags

el-mirage-7By Louren Sansregret
lsansphoto.blogspot.ca 

I have been pretty fortunate over, recent years, to attend a number of different forms of motorsports events. Here in Alberta, it is possible to spectate at a wide variety of events, ranging from drag racing to drifting, sports car racing to rallying. However for years I have wanted to attend a land speed racing event and with no events anywhere near Western Canada, my dad his friend and I set off to Southern California.

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Scheduled for the second weekend of November, not only was the National Hot Rod Association holding their final event, the Southern California Timing Association Finals was taking place only 60 miles away. With the NHRA Finals being a Thursday-Sunday event and the SCTA Finals being held on Saturday-Sunday, we flew into LAX on Thursday evening. The plan was to go to the drags on Friday and Saturday, and wake up early Sunday to head out to El Mirage dry lake bed for the Land Speed Racing.

For those that have never been to an NHRA national event, its unlike any other drag race. The quality and quantity of the “pro” cars is top notch. With over 40 Top Fuel cars and an additional 60 pro cars in other classes, there is top calibre racing for hours on end. Strict rules and penalties limit the oil downs of cars blowing up, so the racing is relatively uninterrupted as well. The pits are another perk of an NHRA national event. They seem to never end, as over 400 racers setup for the weekend.

For the full experience, make sure you check out dinner at La Paloma mexican restaurant in Pomona. We stumbled upon it almost by accident, but the great food and atmosphere was coupled with the attendance of NHRA racers there for a bite as well. Former NHRA Pro Stock Champ Greg Anderson sat at the table behind us and numerous other drivers and crews were spread throughout the restaurant.

Sunday morning we set off on the 60 mile drive to El Mirage. Unfortunately without a proper schedule, we arrived around 9:30 AM and many of the cars had left. The racing wrapped up shortly after noon, but despite only being there for a few hours it was definitely a unique experience. The cars that were competing while we spectated varied from nitro fed Hemi’s in 34 Fords (going 234 mph) and streamliners to compacts, motorcycles and of course the typical lakesters based on war surplus belly tanks and running flathead Ford powerplants.

With the rest of the day to kill and not wanting to go back on the freeway, we set off in the rental Mazda to explore some new roads and without a proper map, somehow stumbled upon the Angeles Crest Highway. The 66 mile road crosses over top of the San Gabriel Mountains, with segments of the road reaching over 8,000 feet. The narrow two lane mountain road undoubtedly was one of the most amazing I have ever been on and is definitely worth checking out for a fun drive with some awesome scenery.

Louren Sansregret is a photographer from Edmonton, Alberta. Visit his website at lsansphoto.blogspot.ca. 

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