The sand dunes of Glamis, Calif., are a majestic expanse of pristine sand and sky. Until the dune buggies arrive, that is. On weekends, thousands of them — as well as motorcycles and pickups and pretty much anything with wheels — descend on this barren stretch 150 miles east of San Diego. Glamis has been a mecca for sand racing since the 1950s. But these are not the dune buggies of "Scooby-Doo."
These vehicles — some of them customized at a cost of $200,000 — can go 120 m.p.h. The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the most popular; this year, 142,000 people showed up: professional drivers, thrill-seekers, families watching the races and deep-frying turkeys under giant umbrellas. There’s no prize money, and no one is really in charge. After sundown, things tend to get a little debauched, according to Phil Pendergist, a Glamis regular. "You’re out in the middle of the desert," he said. "People like to cut loose."