By Chris Alvarado
It was the late 1990s and I found myself arguing with a friend urging me to attend a track event. I repeatedly told him I wasn’t a race car driver and had no interest in tracking my ’86 944S. Needless to say, I ended up at Texas World Speedway for my first event with the Lone Star Region PCA.
I recall driving through the famous Turn 1 tunnel that in hindsight seemed like a gate to another world. Little did I know how much that track would become such a huge part of my life as it has to so many before me. So much in fact that I purchased a home just to be closer to it.
Almost 20 years have passed for me and our beloved track is no more. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t all about the track. All those little things that allowed us to debate well into the evening hours.
Things like, “should we take Turn 1 high or low?” and “should we brake for Turn 7?”. As if on cue someone in the background would then lead you down a long discussion on the need for brakes.
I always tried to lift a wheel in Turn 10. Not sure if I ever got Moe, Larry, and Curly (Turns 13-15) correct more than once in a row.
And who can forget Louis? The man who fed us all from the very first event in 1968 to the very last.
Plywood and Shingles Oasis
Once we got off track we had hours of downtime where we sat in the garages, classroom, and of course, the “Guard Shack”. It was a simple assembly of plywood and shingles where so many cars passed by to begin their adventure. Every club’s grid workers, instructors, and staff would seek out that little building to have a break from the sun-heated asphalt that surrounded us.
Saving Racer History
When the news hit us that the track was being shut down everyone I spoke to said they wanted some piece of memorabilia to keep. As I shared memories and bench raced those last few times I recall looking over at the Guard Shack.
It stood vigil over the paddock exit even during the car storage from hurricane Harvey.
I spoke to the track owner and asked his permission to have it. I still remember his words, “Let me get this right. You are willing to take trash off my track at no cost to me? It’s yours.”
Trash? It was wooden gold to me.
It took several more years for the doors to finally close and honestly I had given up hope that it would ever become mine. Then I got the call I had wanted for so long. I borrowed a massive trailer and a powerful tow vehicle and made a very slow trip home.
Some non-drivers have asked why I’d have such an eyesore in my field. I’d tell them but they just wouldn’t understand us anyway. It’s the drivers that come by and practically kneel in reverence at the sight of it who make it all worthwhile.
I wouldn’t dare disgrace its memory by shoving gardening equipment and pool floats in it. It is properly filled with old car parts and memories. Driver autographs gathered over several years decorate interior walls. It makes me smile to read those names and have instant flashbacks to the good times we’ve had.
The Guard Shack has it’s own Facebook page. Stop by and say hello.
A big thanks to Wayne Hill for providing the photos from 2006 and 2007, and to Connie VanSchuyver for helping to locate them!