During the early 90s, my work regularly placed me on
Gibbs-Sprawl between Walzem Road and Rittiman Road. One day I noticed what
looked like a grandstand behind the fence on the west side of the road, and I
wondered about its past. I queried a couple of longtime San Antonio
residents I knew. Both instantly told me that what I described was
known, in the 60s, as San Antonio Drag Raceway.
Shortly afterward, I was surprised to find construction vehicles
entering and leaving a gap in the fence by the dilapidated grandstands.
A few days later, after verifying the non-existence of any
“no trespassing” signs, I decided to investigate what was left of the
raceway. I parked my pickup in the drainage ditch on the side of
the road and cautiously entered through the gap in the fence.
The first thing I encountered was a large patch of aging
asphalt (which I determined was the former staging area) piled with numerous
mounds of construction material. As I made my way around the mounds,
the former grandstand (now just a jumble of rusted pipes intermingled
among the trees) entered my view.
As I continued around the mounds of construction material, I
glanced to my left, and there it was…the pavement of the former drag strip
stretching out in front of me.
In the distance, I saw a pile of dirt in the middle of the
track with mesquite trees growing out of it.  I decided to walk down
the track to investigate. As I walked, I was surprised how well the
asphalt had held up after all the years of non-use, and how the trees thickly
lining the track on both sides, had not encroached upon it.
When I reached the pile of dirt, I thought the track would
end. However, on the other side of the dirt pile, I unexpectedly
discovered what looked like an open drainage ditch, with the track continuing
on to another pile of dirt with mesquite trees growing from it.
Each subsequent pile of dirt I encountered hid
another open drainage ditch and still more asphalt track.
Thinking about it now...the ditches were probably placed in
the quarter-mile track to discourage usage after the racetrack was
A little further down the drag strip, the asphalt
changed. Just before the change, I noticed intertwined metal
and trees. I surmised I had reached the end of the quarter-mile
track, and the metal in the trees was what was left of the timing tower.
As I continued walking down the track, it veered to
the right, just before reaching the fence. The asphalt surface then
continued parallel to the fence and suddenly U-turned just before
reaching the fence on Walzem Road.  Immedately after the U-turn the
pavement stopped, and instantly turned to gravel, which contained heavy
vegitation. Looking through the trees and shrubs, I could see the gravel
paralleled the asphalt track all the way back to the staging area.
I could almost hear the “Sunday!” radio commercials as I
retraced my path back down the asphalt raceway. I attempted to
imagine what things were like in the 60s, and to also absorb as much as I
could about the old track’s current condition.
I planned to make another site visit (now a
housing development) with my camera, but...it never happened.
However, I still have a vivid memory of the day I walked and explored the
abandoned San Antonio Drag Raceway track with "Sunday!" radio commercials
reverberating in my mind.
Note: Drag strip is marked in yellow because tree growth
obscures most of the track.
Note: If you look carefully, you can see a small
segment of the drag strip that has not yet been taken over by
Paul Kirby Note: I never would have been interested in
visiting abandoned San Antonio Drag Raceway if the Sunday! radio commercials
hadn't made me wonder what it was really like.
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