Early Santa Barbara, a Memoir by Michael A. Jacobsen
Southern CaliforniaÕs other airstrip racing venue was March Field near Riverside. There, in 1953, we see Gene ScottÕs Bristol Special in action.
Photo: Michael A. Jacobsen
The first Santa Barbara road races, Labor Day weekend, 1953, stick out as among the best events I witnessed among all the 1950s California races. Really early Santa Barbara included some time trials held at the far west end of the Goleta airport and adjacent, mostly dirt, roads in 1949; Roger Barlow, the Pollack brothers, Phil Hill, Taylor Lucas, John von Neumann and others participated in those trials.
Santa Barbara—really the airport at Goleta, some five miles northwest of town—was a very welcome new venue for Southern California. For my Dad—as for those California Sports Car Club founders mentioned above—racing anywhere was a blessing, but racing at a place that was also a holiday resort was the sought after venue, as already proven by the fabulous weekends at Pebble Beach, Palm Springs, Reno and Torrey Pines. While we attended the ’53 events at the first two of those hallowed venues, there was no Torrey Pines in ’53, so Santa Barbara was ushered in with great enthusiasm. Sure, we entered the airport races at the one-and-only events at Chino and Terminal Island, but these were short tows from our Pasadena home on race days, not gala weekends, and the courses were bumpy and uninteresting.
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