The past few weeks, for me, have been full of researching and interviewing people about an old short track that used to draw crowds to southeast Austin every Friday night. My research has left me search for other closed tracks in Texas, and I’ve realized that they’re a lot harder to find than I thought.
Often, tracks that closed in the 1970s and ‘80s or earlier have few records on the internet—records about wins, races, speeds and even track addresses. That last bit is what makes them so hard to find on Google Maps.
Even if you do manage to find photos of old ads for races out at the some of these tracks, they often just have “off of such-and-such highway” listed as the track address. The track in the screenshot above, Longhorn Speedway, closed in the late ‘90s, so I was able to find a real, descriptive address within about three pages of Google searches. I drove to the track the following day (and got a rash on my foot from squatting down for photos, because I’m hardcore… and itchy).
But I went looking for the old San Antonio Speedway on Google a few days later, and it took a good 30 to 45 minutes to spot the old oval in the satellite view on Maps. I can’t describe how fun the track was to find after all that time—it’s like a scavenger hunt that doesn’t require you to go outside and, you know, sweat or anything.
There are still several Texas tracks I haven’t managed to find, either because of finding vague addresses or no addresses at all. But the search is still incredibly fun, and it certainly takes up time I don’t have during the day because I get so engrossed in trying to find the old tracks.
So, I challenge you: how many obscure ghost tracks can you find on Google Maps? Search “closed tracks in [whatever area you want]” and see what you can find. If you post screenshots of certain ones, try to get just the track in there so that others can go enjoy searching it out for themselves. Sound like a fun game? Of course it does, because I’ve been playing for about three days now.
Bonus points for stories you have about the tracks you find. As for Longhorn Speedway, you’ll get to read my story soon enough.