During these cold, snowy and nasty days of Winter, minds start wandering to more warmer and peaceful weather climes. One of the most common regions for good weather is the Desert Southwest. My mind is always thinking about racing so with that …
Some will ask why did drag racing start in Southern California? Actually you could have surmised many reasons but I have a little different take on it – it was weather.
Think about it for just a minute. When it comes to the outdoors, drag racing is at its worse when combating weather. And that’s not just rain; you have snow, humidity, cold/hot temperatures and more. When you combine the fact California, especially Southern California, is essentially all a desert, with dry, relatively warm conditions, it’s ideal for racing. The “Dry Lakes“, where drag racing origins started, were mainly in the deserts of Southern California.
Sure, as they say, even in California, “when it pours, man it pours”. But still, there’s no place in the U.S. that has as consistent dry weather as Southern California. OK, all of you in New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada might have an argument but back in the middle of the 20th Century, there were maybe 12 people in those states then – easy, just making fun. Plus those places get HOT in the Summer but in the Greater L. A. area, where we’re really talking about, temperatures are relatively mild, even in the Summer. Also, the air is great for generating more horsepower – being near sea level. And consider the first two tracks, Santa Ana and Goleta; the weather in Orange County and Santa Barbara is about as mild as it gets – year round (every Sunday).
For instance; Bender & Hier junior fueler of the 50’s reported several times racing at Famoso in the Winter and they also remember running right through the Winter months, noting how some of those cool evenings at places like Lions in Long Beach, were perfect weather for making cars run at their optimum.
So there you have it, next time you talk about weather, maybe it’s more interesting than you think as it mightily contributed to why Southern California was the birth place of drag racing. OK, back to your snow-blowers.