GIF: scan of Holtville dashplaque - January 30-31, 1971               
Holtville Aerodrome International Raceway
Aerial Views

From Terraserver Satellite Photographs by USGS
GIF: Large Scale Photo of the edge of the desert and the Aerodrome

29 KM NE of Mexicali, Baja California     16 June 1996
Annotations from memory


The large view page includes a 1943 photo of the Hangar area.

Click this text to see the Large Aerial View      

Click here for a closer view of the race course


HAIR is another of the racing venues that generate tellable tales. Some of the world's greatest hop-scotch matches took place in the old hangar. A famous Formula Ford Mayday at Turn Two involved the Blue Angels, who wintered nearby. Don Moss reported that he was driving the Sprite on instinct, what with blurred vision from the up-and-down motion caused by expansion joints in the back straight concrete. 

A small black dog herded random goats he found in the abandoned barracks that once populated the area between the canal and the paddock. Those buildings were leftovers from WWII, when this was either a bomber or fighter training facility. They were also used as a sanatorium for tuberculars at some time in their history.

As to the track layout, either of the ones I was familiar with was more complex and challenging than a cursory view might suggest. Not to give away any secrets, there was a trick at the entrance of Turn 5 that could cut significant fractions off elapsed times, and offer a passing opportunity for otherwise similarly potent cars. It did not involve hiding behind the mounds of bunny bullets laid out to dry along the 4-5 straight.

Jim Roiger, ancient Holtville denizen and advocate, is coordinating plans for a HAIR reunion during the Thanksgiving week of 2007. Didn't happen. See his obituary for particulars of his passing, and his Facebook memorial page.

To see frames from a lap recorded on 8mm film, click here.

Click THIS TEXT to see an original 8mm Vega HAIR lap on YouTube.

More Holtville activity, on and off track.

The World-famous Hotel NERN

Photo made in August, 1943 shows the then-hangar that eventually became the Hotel NERN, remembered in this nostalgic piece by Pat Garrett (RIP):

The stone forecourt surrounded by the ornate wrought iron fence of the Famous Nern Hotel was barely visible through the fog that drifted in the morning light ..

NO! Wait. That was the novel, this is history:

The structure that was known as "The Nern Hotel" was nothing more than the remains of a World War Two nose hanger. They were called nose hangers as the building was not large enough to cover the entire aircraft, just the front or nose of the aircraft. The time now is 1969, twenty-three years after the Nern was in active use.

The lobby of the Nern was the floor of the hanger, spacious and covered here and there by drifting sand and tumble weeds. The rest of the abandoned air station was silent and looking as if it had a number of stories to tell on its own. It is a Friday morning in January. Outside the Nern there is a taxiway leading to the runways. To the south of the Nern there is a line of Tamarisk trees struggling to maintain the only other shade around.

The weather is nice this time of the year. Slowly approaching the Nern is the first of a group of very special people. They go over to a very well constructed building made of heavy reinforced concrete and begin to pull out large rolls of cattle fencing, iron poles, large wooden boxes that look to have once contained air-to-air rockets. Next out is a large collection of scaffolding bits. They carry the fencing over and start laying it out, while others take the yellow wooden boxes to various parts of the taxiway and runway. Inside the wooden boxes is very large heavy pry bar, some red gloves, a big piece of chalk and a board to write on, a whistle and a set of flags .

Back at the building, others have arrived and they begin to pull large rolls of communication wire out and take it down to the taxi/runway and stretch it from point to point. Meanwhile a large trailer has arrived with the hay bales that will be positioned to help make up the race course. Others are setting up tables to be used as "Comm Center" and still others make up a Starter's Stand at the edge of the course. Cars and trucks arrive, some pulling trailers with race cars. They all line up at the registration table that has been set up. Meanwhile a couple of others start assembling a "tech" area to check out the race cars.

By Friday at noon, one can see the beginnings of a working race course. There are people marking grid spots on the taxiway. The timing & scoring tables are in place. There is another group of people out walking the course, following them is a pickup truck with implements and material to repair any places that need it. This includes making cement and filling holes.

The haybales are set to mark the entrance and the apex of various corners as well as the entrance to the racing pits. As you can imagine, making a visible race course out of nothing but flat scenery requires a bit of work. The motor home used as race central is busy with checking the race schedule to make sure that there will be enough daylight to get the schedule done. All day long the people have been working doing whatever was necessary to get the course ready for Saturday mornings first event.

Tech people work till late on Friday evening, meanwhile communications people are still working out the bugs on the comm system. Registration is busy as there are more people arriving. Everyone works on whatever needs doing. There are ladies hammering in fence poles, dragging wire and wrestling with haybales. As full night falls, the air turns a bit chilly and the camp fires start to light the night. People gather around the fires and the stories start ...

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