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The Best Hot Rodder In The World - Hourglass

Posted in Features on October 3, 2014
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Photographers: Trackside Photo

Ak Miller was known as a hot rod pioneer. He was a founding father of the National Hot Rod Association (its first vice president) and of the Southern California Timing Association.

Hot Rod magazine named Ak “The Best Hot Rodder in the World” in 2007.

He was also a pioneer off-road racer, racing the Baja 500 and 1000, and Parker 400 in the late ’60s and early ’70s, driving under the Bill Stroppe/Ford banner. In the first Baja 1000 in 1967, he and Brock won their class in a Ford Ranchero, and the pair continued to win their class for the next two races in 1968 and 1969.

His story is like a “Speed Channel version of Forest Gump” Hot Rod said.

He was a fierce competitor of land speed records on the salt of Bonneville and the dirt of Muroc Dry Lake (now Edwards Air Force Base), and was elected to the Dry Lake Hall of Fame for his numerous victories and contributions to the sport.

Ak prompted the SCTA to look for a safer place than Muroc, because the lake surface was deteriorating rapidly, so his group, in 1949, persuaded the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce to let the So Cal hotrodders run on the salt at Bonneville, and, as they say, the rest is history.

Ak was a constant innovator and fabricator; he was the first to run a jet-powered lakester at Bonneville.

He won his class nine times at Pikes Peak. He ran the 1953 Pan-American race in Mexico, driving all the way from Whittier, California, to the start line in Juarez, Mexico, in his ’50 Ford–chassied ’27 Ford–bodied and Olds-engined race car to run the 2,000-mile race with Ray Brock.

He even made an attempt at the Mille Miglia in Italy, but retired early in he race.

“I really like Ak,” said Rod Hall, who raced with him as a teammate with Stroppe. “He was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. When It came to off-road racing, he just wanted to be part of Baja and Baja racing. He always treated me and others on the team as equals, although I was a nobody at the time.”

Once, when he and other racing luminaries were to meet with President Nixon in the Oval Office, he told the others that he worked as a kid in the Nixon family store in Yorba Linda, and how Nixon would ask Ak to bring him a candy bar, and said “and help yourself too.” Of course, some of his buddies didn’t believe him, until the President came out and said, “Ak, did you bring me a candy bar?”

Ak died in December of 2005 at the age of 82. Few in the off-road sphere have experienced or accomplished what he did.

Like a true off-roader, he asked that his ashes be scattered in Baja, the Mojave, and Bonneville.

Vaya con Dios
from the staff of Dirt Sports

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