When we talk about the roots of hot rodding going back to the Thirties, we can't help but wonder how that sounds to the ghosts of the old timers who'd raced the first automobiles a century ago or longer. Cars weren't owned by ordinary people back then, so early competitions couldn't really be called grassroots racing. It didn't take too long for that to change. Ford's Model T made car ownership a reality for a lot more people, and hillclimbs and time trials were their way to race. This type of racing grew in popularity in the first half of the century and again in the '50s. There was something of a hillclimb revival in the '70s. Nowadays, time trials and hillclimbs have made another comeback with four-banger fans. Groups like F.A.S.T. (Ford "A" Speed Technology) are keeping history alive, racing the way our go-fast forefathers did. All you need is a few cars and trucks, some timing equipment, and a hill. In fact, you don't even need the hill. This summer's F.A.S.T. Santa Margarita Ranch Time Trials took place at a private airstrip halfway between LA and San Francisco-not much incline but lots of fun. The event was open to streetable, stock, or modified '34 and earlier vehicles, built in the pre-War style and running vintage Ford T, A, or B four-cylinder engines. The cars are raced one at a time on a timed tenth-mile course, starting from a dead stop. The day attracted just over a dozen competitors and a large crowd of spectators. The action lasted from about 9 o'clock and finished up around 3 o'clock, after everybody had a chance to make as many passes as they wanted.

To find out more about F.A.S.T. and for information about upcoming events around the country, go to their website at www.hotforhotfours.com.