Running at the Lakes, 1929 Ford

Running at the Lakes, 1929 Ford

Running at the Lakes • Edition of 15 • 26″ x 13″ • Bronze

This is a classic scene of a distinctly Western race type- running an old Ford roadster on the perfectly flat dry lakes in the California Desert, circa 1947. Three young men push start a '29 Ford for a speed attempt. The car was driven to the races – its headlights, windshield and tools lie on the cracked lake bed.

In the high deserts of Southeast California are seasonal lakes. Winter rains fill the wide flat lakes and the winds dry them to a perfect race course – miles wide and as flat as a new freeway. The lakes were irresistible to young men with hot cars. A Southern California specialty was a '29 Ford roadster body on a '32 Chassis, usually with a '32 grille. The '29 body was light and cheap and the '32 frame came with a flathead V8. The flathead could be made to produce a lot of power.
This was low-buck racing and usually the owner had only one car. On race days, he drove to the lakes with tools, gas, oil, food, and sleeping bag. Preparing to race involved removing the windshield, and headlights, which were set aside. After a weekend's racing the car was put back together and driven back to it's workday life as transportation. This car is all stock Ford parts except for a hopped up V8 and a bell steering wheel.

In 1947, a lot of the racers had just returned from World War II with aircraft influences. What could aircraft materials and methods do on a car? You could try anything at the lakes, and if it worked, you could sell parts to other hot rodders. The lakes were the birthplace of a whole speed equipment industry.
The car is stripped for a run. Windshield, headlights, tool box, surplus gas can and borrowed wheels wait on the dusty cracked lake bed. The driver in an old leather flying helmet concentrates on the car. One man pushes while another runs alongside with last minute advice.

This is an evocative sculpture of an important automotive period in American history.

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