Sunday Revisited

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 decommissioned.

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, 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.

Paul Kirby

                            The 1970s

                          The 1980s

                          The 1990s

Note: Drag strip is marked in yellow because tree growth obscures most of the track.

                            The 2000s

Note: If you look carefully, you can see a small segment of the drag strip that has not yet been taken over by development.

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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Copyright 2011 by Paul Kirby and – All Rights Reserved.

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