Go Full Throttle — Born on the Dirt Tracks of Northern California
Bob Francis, GFT Managing Editor, began his motorsports experience in 1979 as a mechanic on the № 29 John Puma Chevy Camaro Late Model racing weekly during the NASCAR season at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, CA and San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway dirt track at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in San Jose, CA.
How do you keep teenage boys out of trouble? Buy a race car!
That was thinking of Mr. Puma. He purchased the race car, trailer, and a garage full of spare parts, wheels and tires. He obtained the 29 number for the NASCAR Pacific Coast Late Model Stock Car Series and a racing license for his son John Puma who would be the driver. The Puma’s then invited a small group of John’s high school buddies to join the team as mechanics and the pit crew. The boys spent two or three nights a week working on the car and learning how to rebuild race motors. Friday after school, John Puma, Bob Francis and the crew would load up and drive over Hwy 17 from Campbell, CA to Watsonville to race at Ocean Speedway. Then on Saturday nights was the big show- racing the San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds. Our neighbors in Campbell, the Kaeding family, also raced Sprint cars as part of the Saturday night program at San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway.
Dale Jr’s Lost Speedways could do an episode on the San Jose Fairgrounds Speedway at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds.
As documented at http://www.legendsofsanjosespeedway.com/ racing continued at the fairgrounds thru October 1999 when Terry McCarl won the final night of the Trophy Cup with Brent Kaeding taking the overall Trophy Cup title. The fair board did not renew the racing contract for 2000 and instead pursued several development plans, however 12 years after the speedway closed, nothing has been done with the fairground's property. The huge main grandstands were razed several years ago. A sad ending for auto racing in San Jose.