Friday, June 8, 2012

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing / The Nights Rocked...

It was the mid-fifties and not unlike the streets today when it came to drag racing, the allure of going fast and getting away with it, you and your friends, was hard to resist. And, what could be better than night racing?  Sure there was a strip to the south in Orange County, California that held weekly events, the first on its kind, where John Wayne Airport now sits. But, that wasn't like impromptu racing that was conjured up at Bob's Big Boy Drive-in, Grisinger's, or Harvey's Broiler after a burger and malt in front of your best girl.

Naturally, there were plenty of places to race, San Fernando Road, North Sepulveda Blvd., Ventura Boulevard, anyplace with a stop light to "choose off" and light them up to find out who was the fastest. Sometimes it would even come down to racing for "pinks." But the cops weren't amused.

The law was trying to crack down on the hoodlums any way they could. They were cruising along side the kids on the street trying to nab them, so the kids came up with the idea to take it off the streets down into the L.A. River Basin. It was called, "The River Road," a wide concrete channel with a trickle of water running down the middle during the summer. It was smoothed out from water running over it for years during the winter, long, wide, and straight, with banked sides, perfect to sit and watch the action below.

The cops finally figured it out and would sit at the top of the entry/exit road to the channel, and when the kids would leave they would hand out tickets for equipment violations or exhibition of speed. Life Magazine was there to capture the images with a long shutter.

The river basin would end up being a place to film movies such as, Grease, Gone in 60 Seconds, Repo Man, The Gumball Rally and more, with racing no more.

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives



L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives
 
L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

L.A. River Basin Drag Racing,1950s. Image © Life archives

To share a comment, click here. Don't forget, please forward this to a friend.

2 comments:

  1. My dad used to race his '58 Harley down there, I sure would like to find a picture of him.
    Wendl Ormsby
    Covina
    wendorms@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete