Fire and Rain and The Ridge Route Blues

In a vain attempt to join Jalopnik stringer Bumbeck at Famoso Raceway yesterday morning for Day 2 of the California Hot Rod Reunion, yours truly loaded up the Chrysler with camera gear, sundry recording devices, the Fall box set, and a hot thermos of 80 weight Cafe Bustello. Ahhh.... the Cali Hot Rod Reunion, where period-perfect dragsters of antediluvian design and origins get up on the tire and blister the hides down the length of the quarter-mile.

Fire and Rain and The Ridge Route Blues

Yes: It was to be a shimmering jaunt from the center of Los Angeles to a half-forgotten drag strip 15 miles north of Bakersfield over a stretch of Interstate 5 that locals colloquially call "the Ridge Route," a mountain pass that climbs out of the San Fernando Valley and bridges the City of Angels and the dusty kicked-shit of Kern County.

Fire and Rain and The Ridge Route Blues

Ironically, in an agrarian landscape where rain is for rent and irrigation from the California aqueduct germinates the orange groves, Top Fuel qualifying was washed out the night before, so today was the day to absorb copious amounts of nitromethane burning and billowing through vintage-styled aluminum combustion chambers.

Fire and Rain and The Ridge Route Blues

While loading up the car CNN was on in the background, and I had processed — and then ignored — reports of a fiery multi-big rig collision that had transpired late last night somewhere between Vasquez Rocks and Magic Mountain, more specifically at the junction of the 14 and 5 freeways .

Fire and Rain and The Ridge Route Blues

I never made it beyond the Denny's off of Tuxford and miles south of Santa Clarita; Interstate 5 was a parking lot and traffic was shut down in both directions, due to the freeway still burning from the tractor-trailer pile-up and conflagration the night before.

The latest wire reports have two truck drivers dead and ten injured. Which gives me pause... Chance are, I'll get another opportunity to watch Top Fuel cars in Bakersfield and file a report for Jalopnik. But for a few unfortunate truckers, they have dropped their last heavy load.