Where Was Ontario Motor Speedway?

As a child growing up in the 1970’s one of my fondest memories is that of Ontario Motor Speedway.  Although I had never been there, my family and I drove past it countless times as we drove to our weekly campouts usually in the Victorville or Barstow area.  
 
I can remember reading what the Ontario Motor Speedway “Big O” electronic sign said each week as we approached the then, incomplete Interstate 10 and Interstate 15 interchange with it’s onramps to nowhere towering what seemed like hundreds of feet over I10.  I was even the proud owner of a Sizzlers “Fat Track” Big-O racetrack toy that was modeled after Ontario Motor Speedway.
 
I never attended any races at the speedway, and was too young to go to any of the 3 Cal Jam concerts held there, but I never forgot the raceway or that freeway sign.
 
Big O Freeway Sign 
  
Now 40 years after those fond memories I find myself living right up the street from the old racetrack site, and my wife works literally across the street from the location, but I still did not know the exact location, size and configuration of the old raceway.  I remember reading news reports when the Ontario Mills Mall was being built that it was constructed “in the footprint of Ontario Raceway”, and I remembered that it was north of the 10 Freeway, around Haven Ave or Milliken Avenue, but the exact location and layout of the racetrack was still a mystery.  I assumed that the round, racetrack shape of Ontario Mills was the racetrack infield.

Not Auto Club Speedway

Many people confuse what was Ontario Motor Speedway (The Big “O” racetrack) with the newer California Speedway only two miles away in Fontana. The Fontana racetrack, known as Auto Club Speedway or California Speedway was built 17 years after the last bits of Ontario Motor Speedway were torn down.

There is not a lot of information on the internet about Ontario Motor Speedway but after doing a bit of research, finding some old maps, and watching this great video from Rusting Relics, I was able to plot the exact location of the Speedway and create these map overlays that show the exact location and layout of the racetrack and what is there today.  If you spot any errors please post a comment below.
 

Where Ontario Motor Speedway Was, And What Is There Now:

The speedway was bordered on the north by 4th Avenue (then referred to as San Bernardino Avenue), on the south by Interstate 10, the west by Haven Avenue, and the east by Milliken Avenue, which still has the eastward curve needed to make room for turn 1 and turn 2 of the racetrack.   Milliken Avenue is one of (maybe the only) street with curves like this in the entire city. 

Contrary to those news reports about the Ontario Mills Mall being built inside the old racetrack, this is not the case.  Ontario Mills Mall lies across the street, due-east of what was the racetrack, on the east side of Milliken Avenue.  When the Speedway was still in existence, the future home of Ontario Mills Mall was either empty fields, or parking areas, depending on the year. 
 
Even though virtually nothing remains of the race track, other than some of the raised-burms that made turn number 3 at the corner of 4th and Haven Avenues, The City Of Ontario has retained some of the history and heritage of the racetrack by building Ontario Motor Speedway Park a few blocks west of the racetrack site and by using auto racing inspired street names in and around the old speedway.  Let’s give Ontario some credit for these street names!
  • Jaguar Way

  • Corvette Dr

  • Triumph Ln

  • Shelby St.

  • Concours St.

  • Lotus Ave.

  • Porsche Way

  • Mercedes Ln

  • Duesenberg Dr.

  • Ferrari Ln.

Aerial Views of Ontario Speedway

 
Enough of racing down memory lane!  Below are some photos and maps comparing how Ontario Speedway looked in the 1970’s and how the site looks today (2013).  Again, if you find any errors or inaccuracies please post a comment:
 

Ontario Motor Speedway Location Today (2013)

Site of the Ontario Speedway Circa 2013
 

Ontario Motor Speedwway Track Layout (Click for larger, high-res image) 

Ontario Motor Speedway track layout
 

Overlay of the racetrack on today's map: (click for larger image)

Overlay of the old racetrack on the site in 2013 
 
 

Then (1976) and now (2013)

 
This image shows a photo of turn one, looking east, from approximatly 1976, and that same approximate spot and angle as it looks today:
Turn-one of Ontario Motor Speedway in 1976 and in 2013
 
 
If you have more information about the old Ontario Speedway racetrack or if you spotted any errors, please leave a comment below.

Comments

Do you collect items from the Big "O" ?

Just memories Bill !

I have the best memories at Ontario Motor Speedway back in the day. My mother worked there from the day it opened to the day it closed down, very sad day.

HI GREG!! What’s your Mom’s name, I might have known her. I worked for the executive office of the Speedway (on Wilshire in L.A.) and attended all the races, got to hang out in the suites, pits, etc. Had a blast. Met so many wonderful people. It was so sad when they tore it down. :)

Where did everybody park their cars? The only person I know that ever went to a race said he had to take a bus!

The main parking lot was located on the south side of the track, just north of the 10 freeway. The fields on the north, east, and west of the track were also used for parking.

Fond memories ! We used to go there on the 4th of July, lots of people would do their fireworks there ...miss those old days.

Jerry Garcia was scheduled to perform here on
5/27/73 with the Grateful Dead. The Allman Brothers were also on the bill. This show was cancelled.

Was this part of one of the Cal Jams concerts? Why was it cancelled?

Your story sounds like mine. I passed by as a kid but I never saw a race there. It was closed at the end of 1980 and the main grandstand was demolished in late 1981. I passed by in 1982 and all I could see were the large mounds of earth where the stands use to be. We stopped at the truck stop across the freeway and I purchased an OMS post card that I still have to this day. I started collecting OMS memorabilia about 20 years ago. I also look out for movies that were filmed at the track. The Charlie's Angels episode "Angel Come Home" was filmed there as were the opening scenes of the cult classic "Death Race 2000". Paul Newman hosted a racing documentary titled "Once Upon A Wheel" with his scenes filmed at the track. It was quite a place and it meant a lot to many people. So sad that it could not be saved. The Riverside International Raceway Museum has many items related to the OMS. The Ontario Library is also a great source of information. Keep those memories alive and thanks for the post.

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