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Motion Pictures Movie of the Week: Riverside International Raceway 1957

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jive-Bomber, Nov 17, 2022.

  1. Jive-Bomber
    Joined: Aug 21, 2001
    Posts: 3,609


    Jive-Bomber submitted a new blog post:

    Movie of the Week: Riverside International Raceway 1957


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  2. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,589



    The race track was one of the best sports car tracks in all of So Cal. But, the straight away was where the drag racing took place. Riverside was a hard sell for us. There were so many drag strips in a lot of communities, without going 2 hours away, even in 1957. It was originally a 1/4 mile race track only, but then there was enough room for a 1/2 mile drag race, so they promoted plenty of 1/2 mile races. Now, with that in mind, they cornered the market in ½ mile drag race events.
    upload_2022-11-17_8-9-13.png Riverside Raceway Dragstrip course 1959

    One of the most unusual places to watch a drag race was on top of a cliff (from either side) during the day at this inland So Cal dragstrip in 1959. The sight of the whole drag strip from above was different and from the churning smoke from the starting line to the drag racers whizzing by, it was entertainment in a different form.

    We got to Riverside Raceway in December 1959, for the biggest drag race on the Westcoast that involved the best racers from all over the USA making the trek out West. Garlits, Langley, Speed Sport, and Karamesines, would be racing against the top Westcoast drag racers. It was a great event, although it was a very early, long drive to get there and back from our Westside of Long Beach house.
    But the day in December of 1959 at the Riverside Raceway was a huge drag race for everyone in So Cal. A lot of older drag race/hot rod folks remember their stories of sitting in the sun on the cliff, waiting for the race cars to come down the dragstrip. Even the smallest racer's exhaust noise was amplified to make each run more exciting.


    As far as sports car racing, there were few that crossed over to participate in drag racing while still racing sports cars in those events. One of our favorite driver/builders was Dave McDonald drag racer and road racer from So Cal.

    “Dave MacDonald began his racing career as a drag racer, running stock Corvettes on the dragstrips of Southern California. Between 1956 and 1959 he had earned nearly 100 trophies and six standing start speed records in ¼ & ½ mile speed trials. MacDonald ran 70 races in Corvettes between 1960 and 1962 with 31 victories and 46 top three finishes. He was hired by Carroll Shelby at the start of the 1963 season.”

    His exploits were pretty amazing. Then as he got better in the sports car racing field, he was hired away to start driving exclusively sports cars from big name builders and in a Corvette.

    Dave MacDonald shows off a few of the many trophies he took on the dragstrip with his Corvette.

    Note: Dave McDonald was probably in that old promotional film in the sports car section.

    But, for So Cal Quarter Midget Racing Events or promotions, our resident hot rod person @Dean Lowe was a National Champion from So Cal in the quarter midget ranks. He might know more about the ¼ midget section of the film.

    Joined: Dec 19, 2015
    Posts: 253

    from Canada

    Cool videos and info....thanks for sharing!
  4. Stan Back
    Joined: Mar 9, 2007
    Posts: 1,658

    Stan Back
    from California

    SCTA ran 1/2-mile Test-and-Tune type events at Riverside for a few years. I'm not sure they should be labeled "1/2- Mile Races". Hopefully someone more familiar with those events will pipe up and inform us -- like if they were timed in two side-by-sides or just lapped together as early 1/4-mile events were.

  5. I can tell you the SCTA 1/2 mile drags were serious to us who competed in them. The competion was as good, and as much fun as NHRA 1/4 mile races. First of all, you got twice as much seat time in every lap. Second the extra 20 mph made for a hell of a ride in a full fendered street roadster. The fuel class altered roadsters owned the fast time part of the show. Their problem was not enough gear ratios in the two, or maybe 3 speed transmissions. Remember these were LSR cars not concerned with ET. SCTA only awarded a trophy for "Top Eliminator". Usually there were not many cars running for TE. The last time I ran there we had gotten the car quick enough to take a shot at the TE trophy. I was running ET's around 18.40 at 145mph. The fast roadsters were running near 180 but their ET's were usually low 19's, maybe a high 18 If things went right on a run. Well on this day the final TE race was me against Burke LeSage in Don Alderson's fuel roadster. When the green flag went up I was gone, no sight of Burke. Then, just as I was approaching the lights I heard him coming. I just made it to the finish line for the win. What I remember most is that fuel Hemi thundering up behind me, and blowing by just as I hit the lights. I ran 144 and Burke passed me at over180. Burke's comment was "you and that damn 4 speed! I still count that Sunday as one of the most fun days I've had! And yes Stan, the events at Riverside were defiinately "races".
  6. jnaki
    Joined: Jan 1, 2015
    Posts: 7,589


    I found this advertisement for March 1959:

    Riverside Raceway was a long stretch of roadway, just big enough for a 1/2 mile race.

    upload_2022-11-18_9-59-2.png upload_2022-11-18_9-59-18.png
    The overlay shows the old raceway on top of the newish Moreno Valley Mall with the
    East/West Highway I-60 on top.
    Stan Back likes this.
  7. Last edited: Nov 20, 2022
  8. I can't believe no one noticed a young A.J. Foyt!

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