Everything posted by EdBJr
EdBJr replied to NickHolt's topic in Texas Racing HistoryThanks Tom. I do have some old photos and newspaper clippings (and even a couple of old 8 mm movies from the Austin Highway track). It will take me a little time, but I'll work on posting some of that stuff here. Nick Holt has a couple more pics of the beginnings of the Toepperwein Road track from the batch of pics and info posted above. Perhaps he can post those as a start? Also, Bruce Mabrito wrote a newspaper article several years ago on the history of San Antonio race tracks and in that article he documented some of the ownership and management history of the two Pan Am tracks. Bruce interviewed my father as part of his background research. I don't know if you may have seen that article but it is worth reading, if you want to know more history about the old tracks. As an interesting side note, there was a period in the 1950s when WOAI television broadcast races live from the track on Austin Highway. At the time, TV stations were looking for things to broadcast, since there was a lot of "dead air" time - which is probably inconceivable to most people now. I don't know if those broadcasts were recorded by the TV station and may still exist in an archive somewhere. I'm sure there is a lot of information in the local newspaper archives - if someone is ambitious enough to go look. The San Antonio Light and Express-News newspapers regularly ran articles related to the tracks during each racing season. Many famous racers from "back in the day" raced at the Pan Am tracks...A.J. Foyt, Jr; Lloyd Ruby; Tony Bettenhausen, Sr (one of the last races he ran prior to perishing in a practice crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a midget race at the Austin Highway track); Pancho Carter; Benny Parsons; and Charlie Glotzbach; among others. Here's a bit of history about how the second Pan Am track came to be... The property where the original Pan Am track on Austin Highway was located was owned by Jimmy Johnson (who also owned the old Playland Park amusement park on Broadway). As San Antonio began to grow northward in the early 1960s, the land became too valuable to keep as a racetrack, so Mr. Johnson decided to sell the property. My father was in the race promotion business strictly as a hobby. He was not a wealthy man and did not have the financial resources to build a new track - unless he had a partner (or partners) to help fund the endeavor. Travis Jenkins was a race fan at the original track on Austin Highway - and his father-in-law owned a local paving company. When Mr. Jenkins heard that the Austin HIghway track would be closing, he approached my father about partnering to build a new track. That is how and why their original partnership was formed - to help create the second Pan Am track on Toepperwein Road. Mr. Jenkins oversaw the grading and paving of the track and pit area at the second Pan Am track. My father handled just about everything else regarding the planning, construction (i.e., grandstands, ticket booth, concession stands, restrooms, lighting, fencing, sound system, etc), and management of the track (once it opened). At the outset of the project, my father asked many racers and other track promoters for suggestions on the best configuration for the track. We also visited many tracks around the country during the planning stage. The final configuration was roughly based on the oval track in Bristol, TN. Note that the Bristol track in the early 1960s was not the same configuration as the current track. It was a half-mile paved oval track in the 1960s, but the banking in the turns was not nearly as steep as it is today. I have some old 8 mm film footage of the Bristol track that my father took in the early 60s and I can assure you that it looks a lot different than the track looks today. Also, my dad felt that the size of the track should fit the number of cars on the track and he knew that most races would have well less than 20 cars. He did not want to see a lot of empty space on the track during a race. So, he made the second Pan Am track relatively short (1/4-mile in length), but relatively wide, with moderately banked turns to allow for room to pass. That's it for now. More to follow - hopefully, within the next few days. Ed Bowles, Jr.
EdBJr replied to NickHolt's topic in Texas Racing HistoryHi txtom, I'm not exactly sure how to respond to your request above. What exactly do you want to know more about? My father passed away in 2010 at the age of 94, so I may not be able to answer all of your questions. I was 14 years old when my dad's involvement with the Pan Am track on Toepperwein Road ended in 1968. I'll do my best to answer questions about the two Pan An tracks based on the information my dad left me and my own memory. The time frame I'm talking about would be from about 1954 (i.e., the year I was born) through 1968. My dad's exit from the Pan Am ownership group in 1968 was not amicable , so I do not know what happened to the ownership of that track after my father got out. Ed Bowles, Jr.