140531 Rooms(t)er KXKNa een Niels Loebje en een Stefan Sielaff is er nu ook een echte Thomas Ingenlath op de oprit beland. Allemaal old skool buddies. Call me oldskool.

Who cars.

De Ingenlath Roomster is in elk geval… eh… een geval apart. Scheiding der geesten stuff.

De goegemeente houdt hem, begrijpelijkerwijs, voor een raar soort pausmobiel – maar, misschien rooms(t)er dan de paus, vonden wij het al sinds de Tsjechische designrevolutie van 2003 een kek karretje.

Getuige het nalatende verkoopsucces kregen wij ongelijk. De gemiddelde Roomster is immers grijs metallic gebleken en wordt bereden door baby boomers met dezelfde haarkleur – en instapproblemen.

Who cars.

Want aangezien het no-nonsense merk uit Mlada Boleslav ooit een begrijpelijk gevoelige snaar raakte bij mijn eveneens no-nonsense (want Felicia rijdende) eega, terwijl ondergetekende juist valt voor automobiele glamour en overbodigheden – stonden dezer dagen zowaar toch nog alle sterren op één lijn, bij de zoektocht naar vervanging van onze baguettemobiel.

Een bijzonder autootje, die Skoda Roomster. Zeker op 16 inch patas.

- Geert.


130519-USA-El Mirage-Ford V8-01

At the edge of the gathering the speedster is parked in between some RV's. Red and white with a classic stance. The sheet metal bonnet is popped up, hard shadows accentuate the cars footprint. What might become the picture of the day will turn to an everlasting experience. "Hi there, should I close the bonnet, so you can take better pictures?" "I can park it out there in the open space if you want."

The conversations unfolds as we get into detail. 300 something BHP. "Jump inside I you need to take close up shots. The sound is great, wait a minute, I'll rev her up". Larry is one of these driven and passionate owners who likes to share. He takes it very literally today. "You wanna join me for a ride, I'll show you around." Wind and whirring cogs, click clack, second gear. In between I hear something about ditching windscreens, dust, visibility and Bonneville. Click clack.

As we return at our starting point Larry unlocks the big round steering wheel to get our of the car and hands it over to me. "Slide over to this side, now that you know how it works, it's up to the two of you!" " I am damn serious buddy!"

An endless drive in open space. Hours later we get stuck into down town traffic as we hit Los Angeles. I still have the image of that smiling guy in his white Nascar sweater giving us signs every time we want to return him his V8 speedster. "Come on, go for another round!"


130519-USA-El Mirage-Ford V8-02


130519-USA-El Mirage-Gene Winfield-01

Hey dude, where are you from? You look like you're new here. Germany. You know, I have been hanging around at the lake here for the past twenty years, but you Mr Germany, this is your day. Just walk past those officials and take that picture you need, right there at the starting line! Just do it!

A couple of minutes later I find myself in the middle of the action, a few meters away from the starting line. A motorcycle trails of and vanishes in a cloud of dust. As I turn around to see who is next, I realize I stand face to face with a legendary car. Low, rough, raw, a deep purple bastard. The crew gathers around its driver, providing some shadow.

After the race, when everything has cooled down, I walk up to purple car. This is my personal icing on an already fantastic cake. Shake hands with Mr. WInfield. Eighty-six years old and still full of energy, driving cars like he stole them. Gene is not only one of the scenes last legends, gene is part of hot rod's DNA. I help his crew to push the 501 gently into the trailer. El Mirage, California, it doesn't get any better than this.


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130519-USA-El Mirage-Dead End Hot Rod

Keep modifying, keep testing, keep racing. 

This sunday at El Mirage is a perfect opportunity to get an overview of Hot Rod history. Different stages of evolution are parked side by side, here and there with some strange mutations. Dead ends? No, these contraptions spice up the experience. Top chopped, channeled, shaved. Modified, Specials. From post war Belly Tank racers to mind blowing airplanes without wings.

130519-USA-El Mirage-Special-02

It is  worth to take a peak inside the cars and imagine what it must feel like to sit in a cramped cage at such high speeds. Sometimes all you need in a cockpit is a rev counter and a bit of faith, hence the little religious figurine. Sometimes all you need in a cockpit is a rev counter and a bit of faith, hence the little religious figurine.


130519-USA-El Mirage-Special-01


130519-USA-El Mirage-Chevy Bel Air 57 Station

Slick versus rough, mean versus friendly. Two cars, one model, opposite characters. One to push, one to pull off. Both of them with an eye for detail. Pragmatic use of wood here for low speeds, slick aero solutions there to reduce drag or simply to get a grip on vibrations. 


130519-USA-El Mirage-Chevy Bel Air 57