Lost Track: Golden Gate Road Racing Circuit
There must be a lot of information out there about the raceway in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Enough to fill Golden Gate Remembered, a book by Art Evans and Gary Horstkorta.
I have to admit, however, there seems to be precious little about the circuit online. Maybe that’s because it was short lived; the track only hosted events from 1952-1954 when, like other road racing circuits of the era, the spectre of safety required that events move to the closed, purpose-built tracks that have thrived since.
Also like other road racing tracks of the era, the Road Racing Course at Golden Gate Park still exists as public roads, and thanks to Google Maps’s Street View, we can take a spin around the track from our desk chairs. Google maps also helps us with the travel time of the track, at the speed limit of course. The 3.1 mile course should take your average commuter over 9 minutes. Roger Bartlow did somewhat better when he won the 1.5 liter class in the 1952 SCCA Nationals in his 1952 Simca Special, averaging 6 minutes 22 seconds. Even at the speed limit, the park roads look like a lovely drive in your classic. As is always the case with the Lost Tracks we feature, please send along photos of your car on the track if you visit these forgotten race courses.
What I’m lacking in solid track information though, I can help make up in informative reading elsewhere. Tam’s Old Race Cars has a photo gallery of early NorCal racing, which includes the image above of Masten Gregory in his Jaguar C-Type. He would go on to win the race.
Here are some images pulled from the 1952 Racing Program. Apparently the cover photo was shot off-track, as it seems there’s no clear view of the Golden Gate Bridge from the track, but a lovely composition nonetheless.