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Drag Racing Story of the Day!

Memories of Old San Gabe

by Fred Vosk

San Gabe was most definitely a place where fuelers lived. I don't think they even thought of spectators when they put the place together -- what grandstands there were faced the sun. The strip was out in the middle of a gravel pit. It was always about a hundred and twenty or thirty degrees. Not a tree or any thing else around, just the mountains in the background and the "Green Room" ... but that comes later. Saw some of the most spectacular races out there ... Saw Ivo go head to head with Karamesines in a match race ... "The 200 Mile an hour Showdown!" Neither one of them did double 0's that day ... but Ivo ate the Greek's lunch (and took away his milk money, too) ... 204 indeed! I saw Olds, Chevs, and Pontiacs win Top Fuel. Hemis weren't king -- yet. I wasn't there the night it happened, but heard the story from a couple of my buddies who were: The Champion Speed Shop Chev (Sacramento) blew half a head w/headers over the top of the grandstand. A friend of mine from M/T's shop said the headers were still glowing bright red when the chunk flew over his head! I was there the day Ivo almost got beat by the Cook Brothers' little three wheel 241 Dodge Hemi Sidewinder (jack start) ... They had the "Mouseketeer" past the 3/4 pole but he caught ‘em. I've always been a Sidewinder fan. Once I got to be up in the tower when the Jets ran. The San Gabe tower was a rickety wooden thing (like they have at the roundy-round races) behind the starting line ... when the jets hit the burners that thing would rock back and forth an easy ten feet -- what a ride!

The "Green Room" -- The only thing out in that desert of sand and gravel besides the track and the cement plants was the "Green Room," a rustic little hideaway where workers from the cement plants went after work for perhaps a small glass of white wine, Brie, and a handful of them little sandwiches with no crusts. It was a good place for racers, too, because strangely enough, we ate with our hands, too. In fact I think the sign on the wall said, "Eat Meat - Drink Beer." Nights after the races at the Green Room were something else ... there was always a live (and loud) rock band (just for the racers). I probably saw some bands that eventually became famous, but I sure can't remember. I doubt if anybody who stopped by for a "quick beer" after the races can really remember much about those nights. "Hard partying and lots of race talk." Usually a bunch of us would be car pooling back from the city in the morning just trying to find the Green Room ... leave alone our cars, trucks, trailers, etc. ... That was San Gabe ... Probably a lot of people just stopped by there in the morning (perhaps on the way to church) just to see what was going on ... and were lost forever...

Fred Vosk


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