El Mirage Dry Lake

In preparation for the FLATS Movie and the build of the land speed race bike I researched America’s home of speed “Bonneville Salt Flats” but was suprised to find that they also raced on the El Mirage dry lake bed.

El Mirage is the smaller and dustier version of Bonneville, when I first started planning my pilgrimage of speed in Southern California El mirage quickly became a point on the map I couldn’t miss.

Unfortunately the second last race event of the season coincided with the Hot Rod Reunion so I wouldn’t get to see any Land Speed Racers in action but I didn’t mind.

Leaving Duarte behind I headed through the Angeles National Forest

It’s clearly a place for those drivers in and around LA to get out of the city limits and really have some fun.

The winding road through the San Gabriel mountain range starts to descend into the flat plains of California.

It’s down here where the famous El Mirage OHV Recreation park lies.

Only days earlier I picked up this bike from its Hollywood home.

At the very beginning of the year I bought four tickets for the Born Free Motorcycle shows giveaway bike, it was a 1951 Panhead that was as close to original condition as you would ever want, it had this look about it, a period custom paint job and plenty of patina to tell a story or two about its 66 years on earth.

Realizing I wouldn’t have a chance in hell of winning this bike I decided to risk everything and in February I decided to purchase my 1955 Panhead project bike, that build has been well documented so I wanted to spend some time getting to know this bike, I am in fact its new owner and winner of the Born Free raffle.

I went from dreaming to owning not one but two 1950’s Harley Davidson Panheads and my decision to build a chopper out of the 1955 Panhead made it the perfect duo of stock and modified Panheads.

The first ride had to be somewhere special, somewhere worth exploring and somewhere that held some historical value for myself and

My Dad, with the announcement of the win in July I convinced him to fly in and have a ride with me, I know its something he has wanted to do for a long time.

With a few kicks and a quick lesson in left hand timing advance and retard we made the old Panhead sing and with the midday sun firmly beating down on us we took turns of exploring the El Mirage dry lake bed on this amazing strike of luck.

When I found out that I had won this bike I just couldn’t believe it, I am not a betting man, I don’t go into anything that has the odds stacked against me, but this raffle was different, I had a genuine feeling about this raffle and in the months leading up to the draw not a single day would go by without seeing something that would remind me of it.

For it now to be sitting their idling on the El Mirage dry lake bed under the setting sun was just surreal.

Using the left grip to bring the advance up, the left foot control to engage the clutch, the left hand to select first gear on the tank and then some slight throttle while releasing the clutch with the left foot makes this old girl sail along the lake bed.

It’s a moment neither Dad or I will forget in a long time.

It also amazes me that anyone can use the lake at any time, all you have to do is buy a park pass and ride/ drive on the lake bed.

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