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Southern California Timing Association Top Speed Time Trials - Dry-Lake Screamers

By Miles Cook, Photography by Will Handzel, Miles Cook

Building cars for drag or road racing is fine and dandy, but it seems the top-speed guys don't get the recognition they really deserve. That's not to say going 8s on the strip or doing serious hot laps around a road course is easy, but most don't realize what it takes to make a stock-bodied car go 150 mph, 200 mph, or faster. These guys do-and we have to say it looks a lot tougher than the dragstrip or road course boogie.The Southern California

Timing Association is one of the oldest motorsport sanctioning bodies around, and it's been putting on top-speed time-trial events at SoCal's El Mirage dry lake for more than 50 years. We decided to take a trip up there and check out some of the killer cars that hammer the 1 1/3-mile stretch of El Mirage soil on a regular basis.

Wanna Go?
The SCTA usually puts on six El Mirage events a year between May and November, and this year's dates are set for May 16, June 6, July 18, September 12, October 3, and November 13-14. We heartily recommend it to anyone with a serious need for speed. For details, contact the SCTA at 805/526-1805 or visit them on the Internet at

No Bellybutton Camaros!
If you think all Camaros are boring, try driving one 236 mph and let us know if you've changed your mind. That's the number you'll see in Ed and Glen Carter's Midyear Camaro. Secrets? A 475-inch big-block with Eagle rods, a Crane solid roller, and 13.0:1 compression. Ed and Glen pointed out that the motor has the stock oiling system, unlike some setups that use a big-buck dry-sump system. On top are Dart 320 aluminum heads and Hilborn mechanical injection. Ed and Glen share the driving duties and grab the levers of a Lenco four-speed. A 3.07:1-geared 12-bolt is the setup used at El Mirage, and the car was really on a march when one of the brothers (we didn't ask who was driving) accidentally shut the car off at 174 mph. They've got nothing to be embarrassed about though, as the Camaro has run as fast as 204 mph at El Mirage. At Bonneville, more room allowed for taller 2.73:1 or 2.56:1 gears and a career speed of 236 mph! For other classes, they have two other motors: One's a 427 and the other a unique, destroked 358-inch big-block.

Motivatin' Monza
George Vose owns this wild '75 Monza and crew guys Howard Hoffman and Martin Hansen turn the wrenches. Martin was also the pilot on the day we caught up with them. The 307-inch small-block is topped with a 6-71 huffer and runs on alcohol. Motor bits include Dart heads, a solid roller cam, a steel crank, and Arias pistons. A TH400 trans turns a 12-bolt with 2.56:1 gears. Running in C Blown Fuel Altered, Martin tripped the timers at 170 mph. Future plans call for some record chasing at Bonneville in the 220-mph range with a 259-inch small-block.

Flyin' Firebird
Don LaBine's '88 Firebird is a pretty basic car and a great example of how you can go scary fast without spending super-scary money. Starting with one of better aerodynamic profiles (the '82-'92 Firebirds have less frontal area than the '93-and-newer cars), he added a healthy amount of go-power in the form of a 433-inch big-block. The combo uses a 454 block with a 396 crank, Carrillo rods, and JE slugs that net 13.0:1 compression. An Engle mechanical roller cam moves the valves. On top are Dart heads and a Hilborn mechanical fuel-injection system. Power is channeled through a Muncie M-21 close-ratio four-speed to a 9-inch Ford riding on a four-link. In the third-member are 2.75:1 gears. Don runs in either the B Gas Coupe or B Gas Altered class, and we saw him punch a 201.393-mph hole in the high-desert atmosphere. The tune-up that day was right on the money as the car's best pass stands at a slightly faster 206 mph.

By Miles Cook
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