Okay, it was a little before my time but the race looked about the same. The tract shown looks like it might be the Santa Rosa track. One of the things that was different is that they kept the track watered and their was no dust. I don't think that they could get families to go to the races with that kind of dust.
As kids we used to go the hard-top races on weekends. and cheer on our heroes, the hard-top race drivers. A hard-top-racer was a car that was built up especially for racing on a dirt track. You could do anything that you wanted to it to make it go around the track faster. Anybody that has ever raced on a dirt track will know that no matter what you do to your car, your driving skill counts most. An example of driving skill would be to run up on a car on the outside going into a turn. You run up real fast on the outside going into it. The driver sees that you are overtaking him and his reflexes make him go faster. As soon as he speeds up, you duck back. He flies into the corner going too fast, he will drift up the track to the outside of the turn, and you duck back in and past him on the inside. You always have to remember to smile and wave on your way by, the crowd loves it!
The next time that you fly up on the same person to "show him your tire", as that tactic is called, He will slow down and crowd-in expecting you to pass him on the inside again. Then you just step on the throttle and pass him on the high side because you already have the momentum going. Then you remember to smile and wave on your way by, because the crowd loves it. It's a lot like playing poker. If you are running a bluff it's best to remember what driver that you "tricked", and how you tricked him the the last time. If you guess wrong, both up you can fly up and "kiss the wall". Kissing the wall is not nearly as romantic as it sounds, because it leaves your car with a much undesired permanent pucker.
If there wasn't a good hard-top race, we would go to the Jalopy races. A Jalopy was a car that had to be under a certain value. If you won the race with it, somebody else could pay you the price set before the race, and you had to sell it to him. So there was a lot of low-end value cars on the track. I can still remember the smell of hot engines and the lingering smoke in the air from the old worn-out oil burning engines. That was back in the days when speed was King, and the environment be-damned. God I love the smell of a Jalopy race in the morning!
I may have met my wife fifty-five years ago without knowing it!
I've mentioned before that my wife and I have unusually similar backgrounds. Although she was born in San Jose, and I was born in Willits, our ancestors are from the British Isles. One of her aunts was married to one of my uncles and they lived in Ukiah... But I digress. She went the the same hard-top races that I did as a kid in Santa Rosa. Only she rooted for the guy, Marshall Sargent, that I wanted to call all kinds of disgusting names, because he always beat my favorite racer, Ed Negre. Ed drove a Lincoln Zephyr, with a Cadillac LaSalle transmission and and the motor was a hot-rod Ford flathead v-8. She went to the races in San Jose where Sargent raced. When he raced in Santa Rosa, she would go with her family to Santa Rosa. So we may have stood next to each other in the line at the soda-pop stand. It seems like I should have noticed, because I've always been kinda' magnetically attracted to her.
Best Hamburgers ever!
The kids from back east always talk about how great “White Castle Hamburgers” are. Well I've never tasted one.. don't need to, the best hamburgers ever were at the Santa Rosa Raceway. You had the choice of a hamburger or a cheeseburger. Then you could get “sauce” and/or “vegetables”. Those were your only choices. The sauce was a mixture of mayo, mustard, and catchup. The vegetables were chopped up lettuce, onions, and tomato. They toasted the buns on a separate grill. They put everything on the burger for you, then they wrapped it nicely in a waxed tissue. It came already salted and peppered on the meat. The hamburger patty was ranch raised meat that was well aged for tenderness and flavor. The difference was about like the difference between a tomato that your grandma raised, and one like you buy in the store today. They handed you a hamburger as fast as you could walk up and order it. My order was; “cheeseburger, sauce and vegetables”.
People soon learned that it wasn't Burger King. If you wanted anything special, you didn't get it. When people started getting “special” the guy at the counter would tell the person to check the booth at the other end of the stands. (there was no burger stand back there) The guy would come back and say that there was no burgers down there. The guy in the stand would say “we don't have what you wanted here either. Do you want a hamburger or a cheeseburger, with sauce or with vegetables?” The burgers were drop dead delicious, and only a fool would want to change their recipe. Sometimes I wish the world today would be more like that, where people that had coupons, checks, food stamps and lootery tickets, would just be sent down the street.
Land and water speed records
Was the first, and so far only, person to set both land and water speed records in the same year. (1964) Don was a brave, and some would say crazy, racer that was one of the most exciting people of the day. Campbell's land record of 429 MPH for a wheel driven vehicle was not broken until 2001. His water speed record was 276.33 MPH. He died while attempting a new record. He was traveling 320 MPH when his boat became airborne and flew up into the air at a 45 degree angle. He came back into the water and disintegrated on impact. He was killed instantly. All of his vehicles were called “Bluebirds”.
It was an age when speed was sought after. Anything more powerful, or anything that went faster was exciting to us. The military was building faster airplanes. The jet was a fairly recent invention and was coming into vogue. The cars of the day were designed to look like airplanes, clear back to the tailfin rear fenders. In the sixties, everybody knew who Art Arfons and Craig “Breedy” Breedlove were. They were busy taking records back and forth from each other in the sixties. In 1964-65 The land speed record was broken seven times between Art Arfons and Craig Breedlove. October 15, 1997 Andy Green set the world land speed record, and also broke the sound barrier on land for the first time. Green was driving the “ThrustSSC” twin turbofan jet engine racer.
Back when I was 16 I dreamed of picking my date for the drive-in movies driving a car like this. This black beauty is the "ThrustSSC"
Salt Flat racers
Just about everybody that could afford a car dreamed of setting some kind of a speed record. Our very own home-town-boy-does-good, Ross Sherburn set a salt flat record back in 1981.
I wonder what happened to the days when we could dream of setting a speed record? We went to the moon back then. Noboby told use that it couldn't be done. I wonder what the kids of today will do? We were told that by now that the world would be nuclear powered and it would be free, all we had to pay for is the power lines, and there would be no pollution. We were told that all of the cars would be electric, because power would be so cheap. I wonder how they are doing on fusion power? That seems to be a non-polluting source of energy. I wonder what will be found wrong with that. It seems like everything that we dream about today is just to good to be true. But I'll bet that Ross had a lot of fun "Killing Salt" while it lasted.