45 Years of Motorsports Memories.

When retired military pilot Larry Grismer spotted the ground below him that would become the Carlsbad Raceway in 1961, he had no idea how he would impact the world of motorsports for decades to come.

Partnering with Sandy Belond, they would build a drag strip in 1964 and run races with names like “Big Daddy” Don Garlits, Don “The Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “The Mongoose” McEwen, even Evel Knievel making appearances along with the thousands of local racers and fans that enjoyed the high speed of Carlsbad. 

The motorcycles (motocross) came in 1968 when local motocross event promoters Stu Peters and Kelvin Franks talked Larry into letting them layout a “European style” motocross track on the unused terrain of the raceway to host local races. Once established as a tough and challenging motocross course, British natives and motorcycle journalists Gavin Trippe and Bruce Cox brought the first World Motocross Grand Prix events to the raceway with first FIM points paying “United States 500cc Grand Prix” (USGP) to Carlsbad in 1973. What made this more monumental was that it was covered by ABC’s Wide World of Sports for the next 13 years often as one of the network’s highest rated programs. Every year the small patch of land in Carlsbad would become the “Woodstock of racing” for the weekend with tens of thousands descending on the little valley off of Melrose Ave and Palomar Airport Rd. in Carlsbad.

In between, other things went on at the raceway including motorcycle road racing, sports car racing (1972) and one of the first skateboard parks (1976) ever built in the United States.  More WWOS TV came with the addition of the“Superbikers” event 1979 that was the forefront to modern Supermoto racing we know today.

But the motocross world shifted in 1980 when San Diego localand privateer rider, Marty Moates became the first American to in the USGP after the race being dominated by European riders, namely Dutch rider Gerrit Wolsink who won it an astonishingly five times. Another San Diego local, ElCajon’s Ricky Johnson would win the last USGP in 1986.

Due to the rising value and need of north San Diego county real estate for development, sadly the property of the Carlsbad Raceway would be sold. The final drag race was in August of 2004 and the raceway finally closed in 2006.

24” x 36” sample of plaques that will tell the Carlsbad Raceway history for visitors. Will include a QR code for additional information video for smart phones. Available to sponsors.