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

I was a student at Upland High School and was in the marching band. We were part of the opening day ceremonies for the first California 500. My parents were in the stands because my mom, who was an industrial nurse at Sunkist Growers had won a slogan contest and the prize was 2 tickets to the race. I seem to remember that A. J. Fort won the inaugural race. The next year I got a job selling souvenirs in the stands. It was tough work but I still remember the souvenir ink pens were $8 each which was an outrageous price!

Nice, great job....to provide a description on the map only those who have love for racing

My memories of OMS are a bit different than others. I was not a racing fan, but I worked manyof the races back in 1978 & 1979. I was a member of a volunteer search and rescue team. As an annual fund raisee we would provide personnel for parking, traffic flow and some security during races.

On Saturday mornings I was the first guy you would see after driving thru the tunnel to the infield area. Drivers, crews and car transporters in one direction. Campers in another direction.

I one had a discussion with a car transport hauler about where he parked his truck blocking my traffic flow. It got a lil heated. A few hours later I received an apology note of you were right and I was wrong. And by the way you are invited to the pits for a pre-race bbq. I met some of the big names in auto racing at the party: Petty and Unser to name a couple. That altercation also got me into the pace car for 2 races and a chance to work a race clean up crew for a race. "Your job is simple, stand on the track and wave this yellow flag at the racers as we are cleaning up racecars and race car debis" It was a fun experience for me as a 19 yearold teenager.

On Saturday night, my post was to park outside the main office and vault. And babysit the building and keep away lookie-loos until daylight when I was relieved by Ontario PD. All of our communications were on CB Channel 12.

I remember working these races:
Ontario 500
Datsun Twin 200
a couple of semi-truck races.
There were others, but I don't remember them all.

Much thanks to the individual who put this together. When I was a child I lived off of Haven. A little north of where the old winery used to be, on Foothill/Haven back in the late 70's. If I remember right, there were not many races there but when there was, I was able to hear them. I moved away in 1980 then did 20 years in the Army. When I went back i did not recognize anything and was absolutely floored when I saw the old town where I once lived. I have always loved rock n roll and was You-tubing some California Jam footage. Those of us who saw the OMS really witnessed something special as I'm sure there are people who live where the Eagles, Black Sabbath, Van Halen have played and they do not even realize it...

I grew up in Chino and attended my first race at Ontario Motor Speedway (OMS) in 1973. I attended Chaffey Junior College up Haven a few miles. If there was anything going on during the week, like testing, or Friday of a race weekend, you could walk right into the place. One particularly memorable day was just prior to the the first F1 race at Long Beach in 1976 (yes, I know, the first LBGP was in 75 but that was a F5000 event). Mercedes Benz held a press event in conjunction with the vintage race that would support the GP. Among the drivers present were Ronnie Petersen, Gunnar Nielsen, Jody Scheckter, and a couple others I cant recall right now, but the star of the show was none other than Juan Manuel Fangio! He was there to drive the W196 he won the 1955 GP Championship with. A series of fortunate incidents occurred after I sneaked in, and I ended up riding around the big oval with Fangio at the wheel, conversing in our native Argentine accented Spanish. One of the most memorable days of my life! A few years later, after graduating from college, I worked for an aerospace firm located on 4th street, across from the track. Over the two years there, I saw the speedway be slowly dismantled. Sad, but at least we would have Riverside for a few more years...

When did the start doing queens, and where can I see pictures of them

Love the stories. When in the area in 67, enjoyed seeing the race track. Then when I returned in 88 and discovered my GD building was sitting at turn 4. Thanks for the memories.
Bill

What is a "GD building" ?

General Dynamics, Pomona Division. A major aerospace company in those days. Though the main facility was located in Pomona, they had offices in Ontario and a couple other nearby towns.

Great to see your pictures and maps.
I was there for the Supernationals Drag racing, November 1971. Great memories, shame it's gone.
I also took in Lions and OCIR.

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