Go speed racer, go
I arrived at the San Antonio Speedway on State Highway 16 South at about 3 p.m., not sure what to expect. The half-mile NASCAR-sanctioned track was built back in 1977, when it was known as the “Highway 16 Raceway,” but this was my first time at the horsepower races. As I parked, the most gigantic four-wheeler I’ve ever seen circled the dirt road outside the speedway.
Inside the gates, the shrill noise of race-car engines sounded like five or six airplanes taking off. This was “practice.” Climbing the bleachers, I was surprised to see signs that read, “This is a family sport so please watch your language,” hung around the track. This is going to be difficult, I thought.
A man sitting a few bleachers down from me lit a cigarette. Kids wearing baseball caps with beer logos on them scurried to the concession stand. I will smoke and drink in front of my kids, but I’ll be darned if I curse in front of them.
The grumpy old men behind me weren’t abiding by the swearing rule. They cussed about the guy for whom they were saving a seat. It was 3:30 p.m. and the Alamo 200 didn’t start until 9 p.m. When their third party arrived (dressed like a pit-crew member) he gingerly sat himself between the pair.
But most people at the Speedway were friendly enough. The gentleman sitting in front of me shared his program and his racing wisdom. He drives in from Kyle just about every week for the races.
I asked him about rumors of a NASCAR franchise in San Antonio, and he replied simply, “We don’t have the support.”
Under the bleachers, checkered bikinis and “scanners” - one-way walkie-talkies that allow you to hear what the officials are saying inside the track - were for sale, along with chili dogs ($3.75) and sausage on a stick ($4) at the concession stand.
A ribbon of brightly hued cars marked the beginning of the qualifying session. The cars jiggled side to side as they took off. Hunter Robbins, only 14, was driving number 98.
The fastest time in the qualifiers was Jake Ryan at almost 98 mph. Ryan went on to win the Alamo 200 that evening.
Not long before I left, I felt a hand grope my backside. I turned around to see the mischievous face of a (literally) snot-nosed 3-year-old. Lucky for you, buddy, I won’t press charges.
- Ashley Lindstrom
The NASCAR Weekly Show and Texas Pro Sedans return to the Speedway Saturday, April 15. Grandstand ticket prices are $3-10. For more info, call 628-1499 or visit sanantoniospeedway.com.