›Land Speed Racer‹ is the name given to those magnificent men in their homemade racing machines. They have only two things on their mind: the stop watch and the finish line. Their goal for the next race is always to set a new speed record…
Johannes Huwe, in his own inimitable style, captures images of the unique world of speed freaks in the El Mirage Salt Lake Desert, in California.
The salt lake El Mirage can be found 16 miles north of Highway 18, where all roads end. This is a deserted and surreal place in the Mojave Desert, with normal temperatures of 45 degrees and an average rainfall of 150 mm per year. Although seething with rattlesnakes it was still the perfect location for films like Terminator 2 and Lethal Weapon. Stars such as Madonna and U2 have also used this incredible backdrop for music videos.
This World of Speed story is also available as hardcover picture book at my website johanneshuwe.com/shop.
The course is 1.3 miles long, 90 feet wide with a 1.3-mile shut down area after the timing lights.
Orange cones designate the “track” and additional marker cones long the side of the course indicate the safety zones.
›Land Speed Racer‹ is the name given to those magnificent men in their homemade racing machines.
They have only two things on their mind: the stop watch and the finish line. Their goal for the next race is always to set a new speed record. ›Land Speed Racing‹ is the last motor sports bastion still in the hands of amateurs.
Sitting in the hot sun in a fire suit or leathers isn’ t comfortable. An umbrella or some sort of shade is necessary.
Along with setting a new record, the aim is membership of the 200 Mile Club or even the 300 Mile Club. These proud members can often be recognized from afar by the text ›200 Mile Club Member‹ emblazoned across their T-shirts. These shirts are only available to qualified ›Land Speed Racers‹ upon presentation of their club card.
The participants of the races are diverse, ranging from simple car mechanics to millionaires who arrive in the desert with their truck and a whole team. Taking part in the race are legends like Gene Winfield, creator of vehicles for Hollywood films such as StarTrek, Blade Runner and Batman.
A paddock is established next to the track for the duration of the race. Here the vehicles are prepared for their next race, but this is also a place to stay overnight or celebrate a new record with the team, over champagne and a typical American-style barbecue. The whole place looks more like an illegal race in the middle of the desert than a commercial racing event. One caravan provides spectators with food and drinks, another with event T-shirts.
Capturing the event presents a particular challenge to photographer and equipment. Heat and dust take their toll on both. It is even more difficult to portray drivers with their vehicles at the end of the race. Due to the sandy ground, breaking is only possible with a brake parachute. To anticipate where exactly in the desert the racing car will come to a stand calls for great experience. There remains little time for the photographer, equipped in comparison only with an underpowered rental car, to quickly reach the racer. On arrival, there is only a very small time frame left for photographs before security arrives to confirm the safety of the driver and the vehicle.
Driver’s meeting takes place at 7:10am at the starting line and follows the patrol meeting that starts at 7am. All drivers and crew members have to attend. Information about course conditions and procedures for that day are given at this time.
This World of Speed story is also available as hardcover picture book at your bookstore or here at amazon.com.