Years ago, before adventure travel became so popular, San Luis Obispo boasted the West’s fastest automobile dirt race track.
He was quoted in the March 14, 1934, San Luis Obispo Daily Telegram: “During the three-year period when Exposition Park was in its heyday, one world’s speed record was broken three times in a single afternoon.”
Local racer Fred Luelling, who competed with national racing stars such as Frame and Ralph DePalma, broke five dust-spewing world records in 1923, including a lap that averaged 85.4 mph.
Racing was dangerous, however. Exposition Track claimed four lives in its three years of operation.
The lessons learned in racing made cars safer in the long run, with the introduction of features such as hydraulic brakes and safety belts.
Unfortunately for promoters, the track was not economically viable. It was a long way from the big cities, and many fans didn’t want to pay admission. Residents would climb “Cheapskate Hill” and watch the race gratis.
On June 12, 1926, the Telegram published a story that said the Exposition Park stockholders might sell the park if their debt of $18,000 was paid by the city. The Merchants Association said it would be a good location for the County Fair. Another suggested that it become the city airfield.
After Exposition Park was closed to racing, it was used for baseball and circus events.
The engines no longer roar, but you can still walk up a trail to the top of Cheapskate Hill. The trailhead is near where Exposition Drive morphs into Woodbridge Street.