Barstow, California, is a real American icon. Famous for its Barstow Amusement Park, it also has a real life version of the famous Speedway: Barstow Speedway. This is a place where some of the biggest names in motorsport come to race. It’s definitely a spot that any race car enthusiast would like to see.
But is Barstow Speedway really as famous as the city thinks it is? Is it still one of the greatest venues on the planet? Let’s dive into the data and find out.
Barstow Amusement Park
The original Barstow Amusement Park opened in 1896 and closed in 1981. It was the first concrete racetrack to be built in the United States. The track was designed by Australian Frank James, who also designed the Melbourne Cup Oval in Australia. The park included a 300-yard straightaway with multiple turns, picnic areas, and a roller coaster. It’s been said that this was the predecessor to today’s Disneyland.
Since its closure, the city of Barstow has tried to keep the track alive. In 1984, the original park was completely rebuilt and reopened as Barstow’s Great American Park. It also now features a 4K projector that shows old races and memorabilia from the original park’s heyday. In addition to the main circuit, the park now also has a figure-8 track that is used for junior races.
In 1947, Jack Lindora, a Ford dealer from Bakersfield, purchased the Barstow Speedway site for $25,000. Four years later, he opened the track and it has since continued to expand, adding lighted paddocks, a second track, and other entertainment venues. The track now has a capacity of 150,000 fans and is one of the biggest outdoor tracks in North America.
The track’s name actually comes from one of its most iconic venues, the Hindenburg Grandstand. This structure was built in 1937 and is the largest concrete-framed grandstand in the world. It’s been referred to as “the world’s most famous peanut gallery” due to its unique appearance. Each side of the grandstand is built around an entire football field, giving the venue an unreal size. The whole thing was inspired by an old English sports venue and it’s been said that Adolf Hitler is believed to have watched a football game here in the 1920s. Unfortunately, the grandstand was destroyed by a massive fire in 1971. Luckily, it was quickly rebuilt.
The Track’s Rich History
Although the track itself hasn’t changed much since its inception, Barstow Speedway has seen some pretty significant changes in the surrounding area. The track is situated in unincorporated territory of San Bernardino County, near the city of Barstow. The area where the track is located has been expanding steadily over the past few decades and now has well over 100,000 residents. This has caused traffic concerns as cars, trucks, and other vehicles now have to share one of the most famous motor racing tracks in North America with all the daily commuters.
In 2003, Barstow Speedway installed a 24-lane track, bringing the total number of lanes to 28. This was done primarily to handle the growing number of daily attendees and to increase the capacity for future car exhibits and shows.
Key Facts About Barstow Speedway
The track is owned and operated by the Greater Barstow Speedway Association, a non-profit organization that was established in 1924. It is named after the Barstow Rotary Club, which had its beginnings in 1912. The club donated $5,000 for the construction of the original track and the city of Barstow dedicated the track, as does the club today. The venue is still open to this day and is one of the oldest motor racing tracks in North America.
The track’s address is 900 W Victory Way, Barstow, CA 92310, and it is open from May through October. General admission is $25 for adults, $15 for kids 12 and under, and $8 for children under 6. Day passes are $40, $30, and $15, respectively. There is also an individual trackside grandstand that starts at $35 and goes up from there. The ticket price includes a commemorative program, entrance into the trackside museum, and parking.
The track is currently operated by Joe Scotti. He started working at the track in 1973 and has been its general manager since then. Joe Scotti Jr. now runs the day-to-day operations of the track. He’s worked there since 1978 and has been a manager ever since.
Barstow is located approximately 120 miles east of Los Angeles and is close to major cities such as San Bernardino, Victorville, Calimesa, and Apple Valley. There’s also a Amtrak station in nearby Beaumont. It’s only a three-hour drive to Las Vegas and a five-hour drive to Disneyland.
Barstow’s Place In Popular Culture
In recent years, Barstow has been used as a shooting location for many films and television shows. Most notably, it was the place where Arnold Schwarzenegger filmed The Terminator. After the success of the film, the producers wanted to return and have the action figure star reprise his role as the Terminator once more.
The producers thought that using Barstow as the basis for the next Terminator film would be a creative and immersive experience for audiences. They wanted to go above and beyond the original film and have a richer storyline. So, they turned to the writers to develop a brand new script. This is what resulted:
“The Hunt for Skynet” was written by Gary Scott Thompson and Chris Mancini and it is set in the year 2027, three decades after the events of The Terminator. The story takes place in the California wilderness and centers around a young boy who befriends a mysterious robotic creature that he names Arnie. Together, they battle an army of deadly cybernetic creatures that were created decades earlier to destroy mankind.
Arnie is an exo-suit equipped with a human-like face that allows it to pass as a real boy. It has various weapons and tools that allow it to fight or interact with environments, including a grappling gun, an ice pick, a flare gun, a bowie knife, and more. The suit was designed by the award-winning industrial designer Mike Cappello.
Along with the main story, the screenplay also includes sections where Arnold reprises his role as the Terminator and where other famous movie stars make cameo appearances. To fit the setting of the film, some locations, props, and vehicles were actually built on-site. These include the T-1000’s Hummer H2 and one of the original Ferarri Panzers. The movie premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in March 2021 and was released on August 26, 2021.
The Future Of Barstow Speedway
This year marks the 125th anniversary of the park and they are looking to make it a special one. They are expecting over a million visitors for the anniversary and are putting out the call for interested parties to come join them. The Greater Barstow Speedway Association is currently looking for someone to take over as the next track general manager. This person would oversee the daily operations of the track. They would have full control over the guest list, pricing, entertainment, and more. They would also be responsible for updating the historical data on the website and other publications.
If you or someone you know is interested in applying for this position, please email your resume to [email protected]speedway.com.