Shortly after the mid-summer opening of the 400-acre motor recreational park, N.O.R.R.A. [National Off-Road Racing Association] sanctioned a highly successful competition event for motorcycles and dune buggies. Because of the great area available for off-road riding or racing, the dune buggies and bikes raced at the same time on separate courses, both in full view of the spectators.
Forty-two off-road competition buggies and 4-wheel drives showed for the program which provided a full day of qualifying, heat racing, special 4-wheel drive race, semi and main events. NORRA's Chief Technical Inspector, Elmer Waring, laid out a challenging course for the buggies, zig-zagging them back and forth across a dry river bed of deep sand and through 2 water crossings that caught more than a few participants with inadequate ignition waterproofing.
As if the soft sand stretches were not difficult enough, there were a couple of man-made jumps, mounds of sand bull-dozed up just high enough to get a speeding machine in trouble, that caused some tie-rod breakage. The wise drivers made their time on the flat stretches, easing over the jumps to save equipment. This was a course for proper tires and plenty of horsepower, and even the ex-Hickey, ex-McQueen Baja Boots, with all their big V-8 power, found the soft stuff a real challenge. Chuck Coye won the event for 4-wheel drives in his Boot but the entries in this category were sparse with only 4 cars making it to the starting line. However, regardless of the small entry in this event, Coye and his Boot could have beaten all comers as he had fast qualifying time for the 2.6-mile course of 5.05 minutes.
Racing was hot and heavy all day with single seat all-out racing bugs, chopped Beetles, and just plain buggies, plowing through the sand and water, testing their machines and skills against each other and the timer's clock.
This is the kind of event that gives everyone a chance to see how their engine sealing and filtering systems work. We are sure there were more than a few well sanded engines, and the usual pit activities included everything from changing burned out clutches to welding up frames. All-in-all, this first sanctioned event at the new, privately owned Indian Dunes, was a low-pressure fun operation, very similar to the early days of amateur sports car racing, but with cash for the winners.
The nice thing about a course of this kind is the room available for both spectators and participants. One can camp on the low bluffs overlooking the course, safe from racing vehicles, while the racers get plenty of good competitive driving without the car to car contact encountered on the short track type courses. It gives the low budget competitor a chance to compete with the all-out racers in his nice glass bodied bug without getting it smashed up, unless he does it himself.
With a pre-race entry fee of only $10 per car and a guaranteed total purse of $2000, this is low pressure, high return racing. Ron Stebels, who has been doing quite well on the short courses, took the main event in his own VW powered Five Star Racing Team Special, finishing with a good margin.
Other off-road racing organizations have recognized the virtues of a course like Indian Dunes, and the National Sand Competition Association will host a sand drag meet there in October, with 2 full days of drag racing in the dry river bed.
Opened in 1970 by The Newhall Land and Farming Co. to compliment its other attractions that put Valencia on the map —
a public golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones and a magical amusement park that was under contruction — Indian Dunes
was a 600-acre motocross park that featured two motocross tracks ("International" in the front and "Shadow Glen"
in back along the Santa Clara River), as well as
a flat track and a mini bike track. Frequented by Steve McQueen,
it was located west of the new Interstate 5 and south of Highway 126. It closed in February 1985.
LW3576: pdf of original magazine purchased 2019 by Leon Worden. Download individual pages here