Lost Track: Golden Gate Road Racing Circuit

Masten Gregory leads Jack Armstrong at Golden Gate ParkThere 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.
1952 Golden Gate Road Racing Program coverGolden Gate Track Map

5 responses to “Lost Track: Golden Gate Road Racing Circuit”

  1. […] seeing our earlier post on the Golden Gate Road Races, a reader was kind enough to send in these photos that were part of a […]

  2. Walter Perdue says:

    If my joints were suited, I would kick myself for tossing the race programs I accumulated in the ’50’s and ’69’s in California. The two images from the Golden Gate Road Race of 1952 are good to see. The cover photograph was also on the cover of a Road & Track issue that summer. I believe the “leader” is an Edwards, followed by an MG special, some stocker, and an Allard. Tamsoldracecars probably has full tech specs and drivers bios.

    My dad took me to the ’52 race, starting my interest in sports cars. How and why I missed the subsequent races there I can’t imagine.

    The main event in ’52 had an exciting last minute chase of the winning Carstens Allard by Phil Hill in his 2.3 liter Ferrari barquetta, Phil had lost time earlier to re-install a magneto that had become disconnected from the front of one of the OH cam shafts (rumor), Barlow’s Simca specials were very impressive – the three of them, with differing body work, but all that bright French blue, and clean as a whistle.

    Kind of a shame that the bison didn’t care for the noise, and couldn’t abide the smell of Castrol.

  3. Fred says:

    I actually have movies of those races. It’s only about one minute, but if you’re interested I’m sure I could find a way to get it to you.
    Cheers
    Fred
    Corte Madera, CA

  4. […] photos in the Chronicle article. Recap of the 1952 race on Etceterini. Previously: Lost Track: Golden Gate Road Racing Circuit Spread the […]

  5. Graig says:

    Hi Fred,

    We are working on a presentation about the Golden Gate Road Races. We would love to have access to your film. Can you please forward to thinkdvds@yahoo.com

    Many thanks,

    Graig

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