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Hot Rod Reverend's Anniversary, El Mirage, and One Serious Y Block!


Tim McMaster and the Hot Rod Reverend at the dry lakebed of El Mirage, California


If you know your US geography then you are aware of the fact that the town where I live in California is only 40 minutes away from El Mirage, one of the two venues in the United States where land speed racing takes place each year. (The other being the Bonneville salt flats of Utah.) Even before moving west from Ohio, I had always looked forward to visiting this historic racing site out in the desert one day. My life calling and work at the church always take priority, and up until this time in May of 2024 I had not yet had the chance to visit when racing action was taking place on the lakebed. The Southern California Timing Association, the group who sanctions land speed racing at El Mirage, only has a few events scheduled throughout the year making my effort to attend all the more difficult. As you can tell from the sign in the photo below, most of the action takes place on Sundays. The "Reverend" in "Hot Rod Reverend" stays true to Sunday and the commitment to join with God's people and minister the Word of God to those who attend the church services. Therefore, opportunities to attend the event are at a minimum.


My wife was the one who pointed out the entrance to El Mirage along our trip to Big Bear Lake.


It just so happened that I had planned an anniversary trip for me and my wife, April, to Big Bear Lake, slated for May 16-18. Since January we had remained very busy in the work of the church and had not taken any time off. Knowing that she really loves the outdoors, I figured a trip to such a scenic place as the San Bernadino mountains would be just the ticket. And most certainly it was - beautiful landscape, wonderful weather, tasty local cuisine, and a few days with the love of my life!


Big Bear Lake and the valley are just in the background from the top of Cougar's Crest Trail.


To be frank, I was not paying much attention to anything in the automotive world during the two hour trip to Big Bear Lake. During our conversation in the car, I just happened to mention to my wife, "You know, I am pretty sure El Mirage is out here on our way to the mountains. I wonder if we will pass by the lakebed."


No sooner did I get the words out of my mouth than my wife shouted, "Hey, there's the entrance!" I literally had to throw on the brakes or we would have passed by the access road. We took some pictures and noticed that land speed racing was slated for Saturday and Sunday May 18 and 19. It was only Thursday afternoon so no one was around. We took some photos, got back on the road, and made our way to Big Bear Lake.


El Mirage is in the middle of the desert - almost nothing around for miles and miles.


Later that day I learned that one of my friends, Tim McMaster, was showing up on Friday to race his 1962 Ford F100 unibody truck that weekend. I began to think about stopping on our return trip if we had the time. Even my wife had the same thought as she hopped onto the SCTA website to check things out. So, we made plans to visit again Saturday afternoon as we headed back to Lancaster.


Having never been to a land speed racing event, I was certainly looking forward to it. El Mirage is historic, and the lakebed has produced many a legendary car and driver. The big bonus was that the YBlockGuy.com would be there with his Y Block powered race truck. The only thing that could have been better would have been putting up a tent and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ at such a venue with so many people!


When we pulled onto the access road a little after 4 pm, we could see dust off in the distance at the far end of the lakebed where the SCTA had set up their starting line and demarkation cones. That was literally miles away from where we entered. After driving on a gravel turnoff road for what seemed like an eternity, we finally pulled onto the lakebed where haulers, campers, and race cars were lined up along the makeshift track in the distance.


April and I did not have to look very long. We found Tim's #416 race truck pretty quickly.


Tim McMaster and his 1962 Ford F100, powered by a Y Block. (photo courtesy of Tim McMaster)


When I spotted Tim, he had just got his minibike back "on the road" there at the lakebed. He had made a post a day previous that announced the minbike's misfortune of being thrown off the trailer while the whole works was in transit from Visalia to El Mirage. The minibike certainly had a few injuries but was running well by the time we showed up.


It did not take too long for me to discover that something was amiss with the racing that day. Tim reported that the SCTA had canceled racing for Saturday because the wind was too strong. He had not had a chance to get in a run, but Tim had passed inspection (after replacing his seat belts) and was otherwise ready to go. Before too long, he popped the hood on the race truck for us and fired it up. What a sound! That Y Block can really rev. My wife took a quick video...


Listen to that Y Block Rev!




Tim and I talked quite a bit, and I was introduced to his friend Keven who drove the push truck, a 1948 Ford (and 1947 camper, all in the background of the photo at the top of the post), to El Mirage.


I made a promise to visit the shop in Hanford next month in June - my rotating assembly is up there waiting to be balanced, and I want to take a tour of the equipment and see the store anyway. Tim jokingly asked if he was going to end up on one of my YouTube videos. I told him that I would save the video work for the visit! (And we will have a dedicated blog post to follow up after that visit - much like I posted when I visited Ted Eaton's shop in 2023.)


Racing resumed on the lakebed on Sunday, with the 1962 unibody running a personal best of 144.127 mph on the course. Tim was obviously pretty happy with those results. He said it had been quite some time since he had raced the truck.


If you are on Facebook, you can follow Tim at https://www.facebook.com/mctim64 and see the rest of his photos, videos, and posts about El Mirage and land speed racing.


Personal best for the 416, over 144 mph in "a rolling cube"! (photo courtesy of Tim McMaster)


One of the questions I was asked by Tim and company was to bring the church congregation out to El Mirage and hold a service. That was short notice of course, and I was ill-prepared that weekend, but who knows what the future holds? The Y Block Guy has been an advocate of my gospel work - he allowed me to use a photo of his dragster in one of my race programs for weekends in Ohio when I was holding gospel preaching services, and Tim has also placed a rack of the gospel of John and the book of Romans in his machine shop in Hanford.


Tim's front engine dragster prominently positioned in the Fast Fords race program.


In addition to the visit to the machine shop in Hanford, I hope to have updates on the 312 engine build, more videos added to my YouTube channel, and news on the Y Block Magazine's future later this summer.


The Hot Rod Reverend

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