Seattle Trip Pt. 2

        ROCKY'S ROAD            


A trip to Seattle in 1960


After a 'kinda' fun overnighter on the shores of Lake Washington it was time to go somewhere as we headed out and just cruised around the area.  As with many cities in those days, there really was only one radio station---in Seattle it was KJR. We tuned into that station and there it was: A radio commercial blaring away about the Grand Opening of Pacific Raceways where the drag racing was taking place. My eyes lit right up—“We just gotta' go see this place”. Knowing that this was the only “real” drag strip facility I had ever been to I wasn't going to let a special opportunity pass by.

With a little encouragement with the guys I convinced them that we just had to go to Pacific Raceway for this Grand Opening. I couldn't wait to see what a real drag strip looked like, excitement was in the air.  So, finally, all of a sudden we had a direction to go and we couldn’t wait to see what this new facility would look like.

Sonny owned a 1954 Mercury Convertible (perfect for throwing fire crackers out of), painted Pearl White. It was a real sharp looking car. And, of course, we thought we were a group of good looking dudes. I’m pretty sure that those days in those sleeping bags off-set the cool dudes a bit. If it wasn’t for the convertible being open we would have smelled really bad. There’s absolutely nothing like a few stinky guys, whew!



Pacific Raceways was located about 6 miles east of Kent, Washington. There was only a single lane gravel road out to the raceway site and with any crowd at all it would take a long, long time to even get there. These small little country roads caused huge problems getting to and from the raceway but we wanted to see this place really bad—no matter how long it took.

The parking at the raceway was located in the trees which made for some cool shade on a sunny hot July day. To even make the Mercury sound a little bit more racey, and show off a lot, we unhooked the header pipe on the V-8 motor which gave it that “mean” sound. We cruised around the parking area with a lot of onlookers as the noise from this car would draw their attention (unless it was our smell). It’s just amazing what teenage boys do back in the old days to show-off. Back then it was a whole lot different than what the kids do these years.


The drag races at Pacific Raceway were going hot and heavy after a large ribbon cutting by some local official on the starting line. This Grand Opening event was what is called an NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) points race which would draw cars from all over the West coast. There were literally hundreds of race cars doing battle on this brand new quarter mile.

We never did make it past the parking lot as spectator tickets were required and, of course, we had spent most of our money on the fireworks (and those candy bars). I certainly wanted to get closer to the cars in the pit area but having money back then was a real rarity, for sure.

                As we cruised around the parking area we could see a lot of the runs taking place down the quarter mile.

I was just about breathless seeing this awesome facility. The sprawling race track was built atop a huge hill, perfect for a road course that dropped down and then back up. We, of course, couldn’t see most of the lower track from our position there in the parking lot.

Little did I know back then, 16 years later I would become the General Manager of that very same race track. In 1969 the track was renamed Seattle International Raceway. I got there in 1976 through 2001, and the end of the line came for a guy that struggled just to make it through jefferson61. Life is wonderful with a retirement after 25 years at SIR.

I can’t thank the Lord enough as the pieces all fell right together. It humbles me to see how all of this worked for me. I am blessed throughout my life time. This just didn’t happen it had to be guided and directed along over all of these years. Amen.

 Next Rocky’s Road: Racquetball has released stress in me for over 40 years.