Time Capsule, Half Moon Bay and Fremont Drag strip Photo Archive
A friend of ours got a phone call from an attorney recently. The attorney said “This person died and left you all of their drag racing memorabilia.” We have never received such a phone call but our friend was kind enough to share them with us so we, in turn, could share them with you.
The collection? It included photos, posters and racing jackets from most of the Northern California strips but the bulk of the items were from the legendary Half Moon Bay dragstrip known as much for its bite as its sea-level air. This long gone track was located literally hundreds of yards from the Pacific Ocean.
In 1957, the Half Moon Bay Airport became home to the Half Moon Bay Dragstrip, a place “Where world records are broken.” From opening day through the 1960s, the dragstrip hosted every big name in the sport of drag racing. Don Garlits, Don Prudhomme, Tommy Ivo, Masters & Richter, Connie Kalitta, Champion Speed Shop, Ted Gotelli, Gas Ronda, Big John Mazmanian and hundreds more.
Originally operated by the Lightning Rods (San Bruno) and Piston Pushers (San Francisco) car clubs, the strip’s beginnings were tenuous at best. Seeing that none of the two clubs’ members were over 21 years old at the time, San Bruno police officer Dick Walrod, looking to keep hot rodders in a safe environment, signed on their behalf so they could operate the facility. After a few years, the city wanted improvements the clubs couldn’t afford so they sold their interest. That’s when South San Francisco’s Don Smith and Jim McLennan stepped in to take over.
Under McLennan and Smith’s stewardship, the track became a legit NHRA Division 7-sanctioned facility. Better pavement, new bleachers, a timing tower and other facility upgrades took it to professional status. They even hired a young kid named Andy Brizio to be the flag starter.
In 1968, the dragstrip was sold and closed shortly thereafter. Eventually, the airport reopened and remains operational today, right on top of that famed 1320 foot dragstrip.
The images you see here are from the collection of the deceased party we mentioned earlier. Just about every picture has the name: Rich Reed Speed/Sport Photo. We have never heard of him but he was a talented lensman! A few early Fremont Drag Strip images are included as well.
This collection is vast folks. This is just a small sample of what’s available. We will share more over the winter.