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Pre-War Hot Rod Racing. Harper Dry Lake.

by Dave on December 13, 2011

My Uncle Tommy Lorbeer wasn’t really kin. He was my dad’s best friend. Tommy raced with my dad at the lakes in the late 30’s, flew a P-38 in WWII, drove a Porsche in the early 50’s, and had the first VW Van in Riverside. He was alway ahead of the curve. As kids, we’d never heard a stereo system before when he flew a fighter jet from the left speaker to the right — at full volume. Man, we all hit the floor. In 1940 he bought a newfangled toy, an 8mm camera, and took it out to Harper Dry Lake. My cousin found the reel and I had it digitized. My son Connor edited it and added the sound. Enjoy:

  1. Whoaw, a trully amazing film and story, a real blast from the past. Thanks for sharing. I’ll post a link on my website!


  2. Shawn "loc8tor" Bingaman permalink

    AWESOME video, thanks for sharing…

  3. Wow, thanks for all the great response. There’s a historian on the HAMB that’s already cross-referenced this footage to his collection of SCTA programs and ID’d a lot of the cars and drivers. Here’s a link, it’s several pages back into the thread:

    Larry — From what I’ve been hearing, there’s very little movie footage that’s prewar. I wish I could point you towards more… but I’d love to see pics of your roadster. Can you share ’em with us? Thanks.


  4. Gary O'Connor permalink

    There are some real gems in there!!! The Bugatti!!!!! I guess the rich kids stood out even then! I believe the chopped ’40 with the filled in quarter windows was covered in Rod and Custom a few years ago and is still owned by the same guy. I thought I saw Stu Hilborns roadster along with a Ford Indy car. Not a roll bar or seat belt to be found!

    Thanks for sharing that Dave!

  5. Larry Struck permalink

    Truly enjoyed the video, do you have a reference to any other video or photo of early days on the dry lakes? I recently purchased a 1927 Ford modified roadster that the man ran at the lakes prewar. He owned it since he was twelve years old, he is now eighty eight, what a story.
    Larry Struck. 209-840-2501

  6. Deb Keatinge permalink

    Wow….what a treasure! You and your son did an amazing job restoring this great piece of history.

  7. Rick Martin permalink

    Excellant piece of history! Wish someone would restore the film. Thanks.

  8. Dave, Perfect. Everyone who runs at Bonneville today hopes to capture a little bit of the magic from that era. This film could win an award if entered in a festival. Your son did a terrific job.
    Thank you for sharing it. Merry Christmas, Tom

  9. Sondre Kvipt permalink

    Thanks for digitalizing and sharing this amazing flick! It’s not everyday pre-war dry lake racing movies surfaces… I really hope he made some more movies like this 🙂

  10. WOW. Way cool footage, and cool music to go with it!

    Thanks for sharing it!

  11. Dave,
    Thanks so much for sharing this film. 100% inspiration. Take care.

  12. Oddfather permalink

    Fantastic, what a gem of a find. I had to watch it twice… will probably watch even more. So many cars in that film our now our “cult icons”. Don’t ever take this down.

  13. Lars Mapstead permalink

    Thanks That was awesome some really cool engines and I liked seeing the Bugatti in there, as well as a few cars I recognize. Very cool bit of history, Have an awesome Holiday.

  14. Rich Leier permalink


    What a great film and story ! A great piece of family history as well as general Hot Rod history. Those were real Hot Rods !

    Rich Leier
    San Jose

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