Driver William Freudiger of Hall Clark on his 253.558 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake

SCTA Land Speed Races: 2016 Season Opener

A day at the Land Speed Races is just like any other race day. And yet, it is also unlike any other race day! With the 2017 season about to start, May 19-22 , it’s time to rev things up a bit with a photo blog about the 2016 Season Opener SCTA Land Speed Races at El Mirage. (NOTE: We used the Official Results posted in the SCTA site for driver and team names, and all timing results you see in this article.)

Updated 6/7/2017: Originally published on June 4, 2016, this post has been republished with new links due to the shutdown of certain Federal Government websites.

Rider Randy Speranza of Speranza Brant Robinson on his 80.96 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Rider Randy Speranza of Speranza Brant Robinson on his 80.96 mph run

SCTA is the Southern California Timing Association who, along with Bonneville Nationals, Inc. (BNI), sanction  the races and and maintain the rules and records for events at El Mirage Dry Lake in Southern California, and at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The volunteer organization dates back to 1937 and is, “considered the oldest operating racing organization in the United States” (Facebook). The driver and team names as well as the speeds posted in this blog are from the official results in the SCTA website.

The day begins early with drivers checking in at the SCTA trailer.

Driver registration area at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Driver Registration Area

Starting officials Ken Carlson and Jim Jenson are among the staff that operate the races and maintain the safety procedures during the events.

Starting officials (L-R) Ken Carlson and Jim Jensen on the starting line at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Starting officials (L-R) Ken Carlson and Jim Jensen on the starting line

In many of the vehicles, there is very little room for “driver comfort” as demonstrated by rider Derek McLeish of Team McLeish Bros. while preparing for his 172.374 mph run.

Rider Derek McLeish of Team McLeish Bros. prepares for his 172.374mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Rider Derek McLeish of Team McLeish Bros. prepares for his 172.374mph run

Brian Dean’s intense gaze at the starting line gives an idea of just how focused the racers are before their runs. Brian, of Thomas & Deans Thundersalt 2, is seen here just before his 217.857 mph run.

Driver Brian Dean of Thomas & Deans Thundersalt 2 prepares for his 217.857 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Driver Brian Dean of Thomas & Deans Thundersalt 2 prepares for his 217.857 mph run

With the race track running 1.3 miles, race camp gets rather large, spread out along both sides of the track, making dirt bikes a popular method of getting around to view the action and visit friends.

Race camp atmosphere at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Race camp atmosphere at SCTA – Southern California Timing Association’s Land Speed Races

Winged transportation is another popular pastime at El Mirage as evidenced by these ultralights that dropped in for a quick hello.

Ultralights contribute to race camp atmosphere at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Ultralights contribute to race camp atmosphere

There are four car classes for Land Speed Racing (LSR); Special Construction, Vintage, Modified and Production. The classes are explained well at BonnevilleRacing.Com.

Typically one of the fastest cars at the track in its class, this Vintage roadster driven by David Davidson of Cummins Beck Davidson Thorns racing team demonstrates just what a classic beauty is capable of during his 255.963 mph run.

Driver Dave Davidson of Cummins Beck Davidson Thorns on his 255.963 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Driver Dave Davidson of Cummins Beck Davidson Thorns on his 255.963 mph run

Not old enough to be a Vintage entry (before the 1948 model year), this 1968 Mustang driven by Gary Hahn of The California Special on his 177.657 mph run, is a beautiful example of a Modified race car.

Driver Gary Hahn of The California Special on his 177.657 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Driver Gary Hahn of The California Special on his 177.657 mph

Making their debut shortly after WWII, Lakesters were first built from military aircraft drop tanks that were originally designed to hold fuel. Due to their great aerodynamics, the tanks also make exceptional land speed race cars!

Driver Mike Latus of Lefty's Speed Shop on his 155.476 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Driver Mike Latus of Lefty’s Speed Shop on his 155.476 mph run

Running at nearly 200 mph, this Special Construction entry driven by Al Eshenbaugh for Steinegger & Eshenbaugh is a stunning example of the Special Construction class of race cars.

Driver Al Eshenbaugh of Steinegger & Eshenbaugh on his 198.012 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Driver Al Eshenbaugh of Steinegger & Eshenbaugh on his 198.012 mph run

Motorcycles of all types are also well-represented at the Land Speed Races. This classic Indian Motorcycle, ridden by Johnny McClure of McClure Special, topped 153 mph this weekend.

Rider Johnny McClure of McClure Special on his 153.563 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Rider Johnny McClure of McClure Special on his 153.563 mph run

At 228.264 mph, rider Chris Rivas of Chris Rivas V-Twin invited onlookers to simply, “eat my dust!”

Rider Chris Rivas of Chris Rivas V-Twin on his 228.264 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Rider Chris Rivas of Chris Rivas V-Twin on his 228.264 mph run

There were also some, let’s say, less than conventional set ups, like this one ridden by Tim Lewis of Bucket 372 on his 70.438 mph run.

Rider Tim Lewis of Bucket 372 on his 70.438 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Rider Tim Lewis of Bucket 372 on his 70.438 mph run

As the day progressed into the afternoon, the wind became a factor as it kicked up a lot of sand and dust. A number of dust devils whirled their way through race camp, fortunately without causing any damage.

Dust devil in race camp at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Dust devil in race camp at SCTA – Southern California Timing Association’s Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake

No filters were used on any of the photos in this blog, including this one of Pat Blevins of Pat Blevins Racing during his 178.883 mph run. As you can see, visibility was a challenge for some of the afternoon racers. Because it was an intermittent tail wind, not a cross wind, racing was allowed to continue while weather developments were being carefully monitored by race officials.

Driver Pat Blevins of Pat Blevins Racing on his 178.883 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Driver Pat Blevins of Pat Blevins Racing on his 178.883 mph run

This photo of rider Martin Sechrist of All Hat No Cattle on his 150.117 mph run was taken just one minute later, showing how variable the conditions were.

Rider Martin Sechrist of All Hat No Cattle on his 150.117 mph run at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Rider Martin Sechrist of All Hat No Cattle on his 150.117 mph run

A big part of the fun of race day is the people you meet on the track and in race camp, like starting official Jill Shannon.

Starting line official Jill Shannon at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Starting line official Jill Shannon at SCTA – Southern California Timing Association’s Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake

However, as warnings came in of an approaching sand storm, it became necessary to make a quick exit and forgo the evening festivities. Those who left shortly after we did found themselves in zero visibility for a multi-hour ordeal of trying to cross the lake bed and find their way to the exit of the recreation area.

Desert atmosphere at SCTA - Southern California Timing Association's Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake
Desert atmosphere at SCTA – Southern California Timing Association’s Land Speed Races at El Mirage Dry Lake

Click the thumbnails below
to view full-size photos

Want more Land Speed Racing? View our coverage of the 2015 Season Finale!

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