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Two-mile track in San Antonio back in 1928?


NickHolt
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Here's a story and grainy pic from the San Antonio Express published in 1928 that refers to a 2-mile track in San Antonio. Any ideas? Maybe the old fairgrounds track on Culebra near Loop 410?

 

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San Antonio Express, June 101928

 

Jimmie Lawrence's recent New Braunfels victory in the stock car event was just another of a string of victories to him but to race fans it is an indication of what to expect in the coming races at Victoria. Jimmie took the lead and held it at New Braunfels for the entire 15-lap grind. His fast stepping Whippet won the stock car race for cars under $1,000 and topped the entire field in the "free for all." Some say the track was too small for the bigger cars but Lawrence's victory of June last year on the two-mile San Antonio track discounts this. The car above, with Jimmie at the wheel, is owned by himself and he's not lost a race in this section of the country. It was strictly stock according to race terms and has traveled over 40,000 miles. Published in the San Antonio Express June 10, 1928.

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The first San Antonio Speedway. Built in 1920 between Pleasanton Road and South Flores on the south side of Military.

Sanctioned by the old AAA group, and the first race was January, 1921 with car and motorcycle races in front of an estimated 18-20,000 spectators. Average speed around the course was a whopping 60 MPH. There is record of this track holding events until the late 20's; it may have run longer.

 

The article also refers to New Braunfels. There was a limited number of events held on the horsetrack that is part of the Comal County fair complex on Common Street. They were held in the late 20's.

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  • 2 weeks later...

San Antonio Speedway opened on 01/16/1921. The last race I am aware of was on 04/24/1927, although in my notes I also show a record run of a motorcycle rider called 'Red' Peters in June 1927. I suppose it's possible there were also races then, as stated in the article.

 

Despite my best efforts I was never able to find a period map showing the track.

 

Going off-topic a little, there was another two-mile track in Texas in that era, the rather mysterious Ochiltree Speedway up in the panhandle, which was used once or twice in 1916.

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Ochiltree is an unincorporated hamlet in the county of the same name. It is basically the Perryton, Texas area.

The 2 mile track mentioned held two race events; the first was a 2 day show June 16 and 17, 1916.

The Friday race had 7 entries for a 150 Mile race, the winner was a man named either B.A or R.A Pitman of Shattuck, Oklahoma.

Saturday saw two events; the first was a 50 mile Ford race, won by an unknown Texas driver. The second race was a 200 mile event won again by Pitman.

 

The track held an event again on September 16, 1916. It was a 50 mile motorcycle race, and a 150 mile auto race. I have never seen any results listed for this event.

 

Think about 7 entries on a two mile track; in that era, it was common for an event to have 4 to 8 entries in the field.

 

Now that we are talking about big tracks in Texas; Given your handle "OldGalveston", do you have any information on the races held in Galveston around 1910 to 1914? Held at Denver Beach, although I can't find a reference stating its' location. There was a 5 mile oval and a 2 1/2 mile oval at the basic same location.

Share anything ya know about this location!

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With regards to Ochiltree: whether that second event took place is still up for debate; it was announced but as you say there are no results to be found anywhere, so possibly it did not actually happen. Weird place for a speedway of that size, anyway.

 

The first automobile race in Galveston was on 11/29/1906 (Thanksgiving), reportedly on a two-mile course at Denver Beach. The races gained more momentum when they were paired with the Cotton Carnival, each August from 1909 through 1914. It seems they used a variety of course lengths, including 2, 5 and 10 miles.

 

As for the location of Denver Beach, I've never seen a map with that name on it. The only describtion of some kind I was able to find is from a 1909 newspaper clipping which says: "the course (...) being from the west end of the city limits to about Thirty-ninth street."

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  • 2 months later...

Got this awesome link from Carl Schulz, one of our LSSZ members today having to do with Ochiltree Speedway. The link is to "The Memoirs of Leland Callaway" and the except if from pages 11 and 12 of Mr. Callaway's Memoirs.

 

Here is the link to the full 29-page Memoirs of Leland Callaway >>>> ... http://lelancallaway.com/cwcsr.pdf

 

"THE RACE TRACK

 

Now, after years of waiting in Ochiltree, and taking an active interest in Chamber of Commerce work, boosting our country, roads, etc., helping in any way I could, I must tell about our race track.

 

In 1915, Jim Wilson, Bill McLarty and I met with others of our Chamber of Commerce about the building around a Playa Lake S. W. of Ochiltree about six or seven miles. This was a lake capable of building a 2 1/2 mile race track. A natural amphitheater, owned by the Santa Fe Railroad Company. They offered us free use of the land, others of our Chamber of Commerce members turned us down. We three decided to tackle it alone.

 

Bill McLarty arranged to have it graded, got a man who owed him a grocery bill, and this man had a bunch of mules, plows, scrapers, etc.and he did a good job. Jim and I was handling the advertising. We had to build a mile of fence to control the crowd. We also built a grandstand and a dance platform had a strip plowed 200' away from the track, so as to control the parked cars around the entire 2 1/2 miles. This for safety in case of a race car that might fly the track.

 

Our purse money as advertised was $2000.

 

We run small ads all over the Panhandle and got all the news coverage we could. Yes, we got shakey on the eve of the races. Three or four days before the races we were getting good rains, fortunately for us there was one day for drying out the track and the roads before the races were to start. By the time the races started the track was in wonderful shape. The roads all over the Panhandle were drying out except for the low places, and lots got stuck getting there, but they came in big numbers. The first day was a big one for everyone who saw it.

 

We took in that day over $3600, entrance fee was $1. Some of the cars were Hudson, Buick, Stutz, Pierce Arrow, National, others names now forgotten. Second day over $2000, or over $5600 for the two days.

 

This was a 250 mile race and top speed at this race track was around 80 miles. This speed was terrific, as in those days we did good to average 20 miles out on our roads. In other words, we who had a car did great when we could get to Amarillo in 5-1/2 to 6 hours.

 

Now since all this has been said about our trip and for the reason mostly to give you some idea of early day car trips, I should finish about the races. Our old car had served us well and likewise the racing cars had served most of the racers well. As I recall, only one car that entered the races broke down and could not be fixed until new parts were shipped in.

 

We three that had promoted the races were very pleased, as were all who had come and paid to see them, so far as we could learn. We paid all bills and had over $600 left. We had brought a lot of people into our county who had never been there before.

 

Well later, (about 3 months), we decided it would be good to hold another race, as the track would only need a little smoothing up. The fence was still there the seats and the dance floor, okay. So we advertised again about as before, but didn't go over anything like before. Oh well, it seemed most had seen races before and they did not show up, the result we wound up after all bills were paid, with a mere check of about $13 each for all our trouble.

 

Still, we had no regrets."

 

Here are the two flyers for the two events discussed above and a pic of one of the cars entered.

 

Flyer for the 1st event

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Flyer for the 2nd event

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Ochiltree TX Race Track 1916 racecar and crowd

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  • 7 years later...

This is really kool stuff!  Never knew there were so many raceways in Texas in the early 1900's!
Love reading this!

 

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