Eyewitness Report From Truck Fire on Hwy 92

Both lanes on Hwy 92 are open now–but it took Burt 1 hour and ten minutes of waiting on the road–due to a big rig fire which closed down the highway.

Burt says the fire occurred on the west side of 92 in east-bound lanes. “The truck was completely burned, the cab was burned. How could that have happened?”

He saw one firetruck and numerous CHP (California Highway Patrol) vehicles at the scene of the fire. The remains of the truck have been pulled to the side of the road (we haven’t heard what happened to the driver…we hope he’s okay).

“The traffic was just horrible,” says Burt who sat in his car behind two garbage trucks. “The trucks made it impossible for me to see what was going on.”

Now that both sides of Highway 92 are open again, Burt says he sees hundreds of cars backed-up waiting to head west to Half Moon Bay.

Hey Commuters! Our Suffering May Be At End……

…Coastsider.com reports that Caltrans officials at a press conference yesterday announced that Devil’s Slide will reopen on August 4th.

Praise the Lord!

Our gratitude is overwhelming…Thank you to the engineers and working guys at the Slide who beat the schedual, thank you to all the officials for whatever role they played.

Hey CalTrans, one more thing….the poor slugs that sit on Hwy 92– two-three hours per day– may not even get this good news…How about spreading the word on all the printed signs and new electronic boards that give the number of minutes to and from Hwy 280 & Hwy 1….

…And one last thought: If on August 4 there is a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Slide’s reopening– in addition to the smiling bureaucrats and politicians– PLEASE make sure a couple of commuters are represented at the ceremony, too.

(Photo: Commuters raring to go when the Slide reopens).

P.S. Re-opening of the Slide is a headline story in the San Mateo Times

How About Reimbursing The Commuter?


We’re delighted to learn that financial reimbursement is being made by the feds to some local non-profits whose resources have been stretched because of the closure of Devil’s Slide.

That’s great–but, as usual, the commuter doesn’t seem to count.

Let’s examine the cost to the commuter:

(1) Never have gas prices been so high.
(2) A car/truck is one of the most expensive items a family or individual owns.
(3) There’s wear and tear on the vehicle. Repairs to be made.
(4) Time lost sitting on Hwy 92
(5) Stress leading to illness (A well known county cardiologist, with homes on both sides of the hill, says that sitting in traffic on Hwy92 , is one of the huge factors that can lead to heart attacks).

And how do you measure the significant cost on the family?

Don’t forget not everything is measured in dollars. I’d just like to see one time– the worn-out, beat-up, poor sucker who is stuck on Hwy 92 for torturous hours every day–be first on the list of assistance.

(Photo taken in front of Half Moon Bay Bakery, Main Street).

Caught Up With The Coastside’s New “Jitney” Hwy 1 Bus

I was driving south on Hwy 1 near Safeway when I pulled up beside one of the Coastside’s “solutions” to the closure of Devil’s Slide.


There might have been more than one passenger but I don’t think so. Seconds later another one of these Parking Company of America jitneys pulled out of the shopping center. This one was empty for sure.

Hopefully, more folks will use these buses–otherwise we’ll just have more vehicles adding to traffic on Hwy1 In that case the $160,000 put out for the service might better have been allocated to finishing the repairs at Devil’s Slide a minute and nine seconds faster.


Garlits v Prudhomme: The 1/4 Mile, 7-Second Rush of Acceleration: Half Moon Bay Drag Strip


Part 4

The day of the match race finally arrived and the stage was set for the two biggest names in the sport, Don Garlits and Don Prudhomme, the only two men to win drag racing’s triple crown.

At 6:15 a.m. that Sunday, cars blocked traffic on Highways 1 and 92. The Half Moon Bay air strips huge parking lot was packed. Parked cars spilled out on entrance roads in all directions—a great turn-out and tribute to these world-class athletes.

“15 thousand people showed up,â€? Don “Big Daddyâ€? Garlits told me in 1998. “They came to see their man, Prudhomme, beat ‘Big Daddy’â€?.

(Remember the trophy was already etched with Prudhomme’s name).

The race was run in three heats: two wins got the trophy and the $5,000 purse.

Garlits easily won the first heat but Prudhomme came back with a magnificent effort in the second heat.

On the scene was a reporter from Drag Racing Magazine. “Now the drama was really tense,â€? he wrote. “We had just watched two-thirds of the best match race we had ever seen.â€?

Now came the final deciding heat. A quarter-mile, 7-second rush of acceleration.

The magazine reporter wrapped it up:

“The two cars were perfectly matched….The two giants of drag racing pushed down the lanes for the final chapter of one of the truly great moments in the sport.â€?

And with the starting flags, Don Garlits was gone. He grabbed the lead, over a full car length—it was impossible for Prudhomme to catch him.

Don Garlits had defied the race experts who said he couldn’t win.

“It was the most important, most satisfying victory of my career,â€? Garlits told me. After he won the race he said, “I drove 50 miles before I remembered that I forgot to get my $5,000 prize money. Jim McLennan was waiting for me at Half Moon Bay when I returned. He grinned and said, ‘We wondered when you’d be back’.â€?

Jim McLennan, a former Woodside resident, lived in San Francisco when I interviewed him in 1998. The Half Moon Bay Bakery’s Mark Andermahr proclaimed that “Don Garlits is the most famous drag racer in the world.â€? Don Garlits operates the very successful Museum of Drag Racing in Ocala, Florida.

Three years after the famous race between Don Garlits and Don Prudhomme, the Half Moon Bay Drag Strip closed its gates forever.

airport.jpg (Photo: The Half Moon Bay Airport where the drag races took place).

Garlits v Prudhomme:The 1/4 Mile, 7-Second Rush of Acceleration: Half Moon Bay Drag Strip


prudhomme.jpg(Photo: Don Prudhomme with Half Moon Bay Drag Strip “Theme Girl” Tammy Thomas)

For Coastside kids, now adults, the Half Moon Bay Drag Strip remains a fond memory. In the late 1990s I interviewed Mark Andermahr, owner of the Half Moon Bay Bakery on Main Street. A fervent fan of drag racing, Andermahr had turned the walls of the bakery into a museum of historic photos honoring the old drag strip and its heroes.

In the 1960s, Andermahr told me, he and his friends hitchhiked to the drag strip, perching themselves atop the roof of a barn at the south end of the drag strip.

“All we could see was the end of the race when the parachutes opened,â€? Mark said. They looked like little dots getting bigger.â€?

(The “parachutesâ€? helped slow down the super-fast dragsters).

The races took place every other Sunday, the price of admission 90 cents. Jim McLennan “could hardly wait for race dayâ€? when he got behind the wheel of his 1936 Ford pick-up truck and headed from San Francisco for the Half Moon Bay Drag Strip where he opened the gates and awaited the crowds.

McLennan remembered a press conference he scheduled at Half Moon Bay, inviting radio and television stations to cover a mock race matching his homemade “slingshot dragsterâ€? that could go up to 150 mph against Art Arfon’s “Green Monsterâ€?.

Arfon’s dragster with a painted monster baring its teeth on the front end was funny to look at but it was awesome, loaded with a gas-eating jet engine that reached speeds of 170 mph.

“The media didn’t come to the press conference,â€? McLennan said. “They didn’t know where the drag strip was!â€?

Back at the Champion Speed Shop in Colma a KPIX-TV cameraman and reporter arrived, apologizing for their failure to get to Half Moon Bay.

“Can you show us the mock race now?â€? the reporter asked.

Game for anything, McLennan called Colma’s police chief, who said, “Sure, go ahead. You can run the thing, just put a couple of guys on the street to stop the traffic on the El Camino.â€?

“We did it,â€? McLennan said. “Art came down the street in the ‘Green Monster’.â€?

He gave it the gas, and the noise was incredible. Two parachutes stopped the “Monsterâ€? at the El Camino but the noise was so loud “the phones were ringing off the hook at Colma’s City Hall.

McLennan also made valuable contributions to the safety of the sport. Through conversations with a San Francisco Airport fire official, he helped develop a “pro-helmet, fashioned out of fiberglass material, protecting the driver from burns. Northern California dragsters were the first to wear the new “fire suit,â€? McLennan said.

Using brakes to slow a dragster going 150-plus mph did not do very well so McLennan experimented with parachutes.

Crouching in the truck bed of a pick-up, McLennan tossed out a 20-foot chute tied to a chain but he says, “It wrecked the tail gate and everything else.â€?

Eventually he used a triangle parachute attached to a nylon “roll cageâ€? which resembled a back pack. McLennan was among the first to use parachutes to slow down a dragster.


photos courtesy Mark Andermahr