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Race with the Devil (1975) Filming Locations
Race with the Devil is an action-filled gem of a 1970s "B movie" about two couples from San Antonio driving in a motorhome toward a Colorado skiing vacation. Roger Marsh (Peter Fonda) and Frank Stewart (Warren Oates) are best friends and business partners expecting an idyllic winter getaway with their wives, Kelly (Lara Parker) and Alice (Loretta Swit), until their plans are derailed by an unsettling encounter with a Satanic cult. After witnessing an apparent human sacrifice, the couples are forced to flee in their RV, and the race is on as our protagonists attempt to escape Old Scratch’s minions throughout the Texas Hill Country.
Many thanks to my friend Brad for introducing me to Race with the Devil and visiting the locations with me.
Race with the Devil was filmed primarily in and around San Antonio, Texas and the Texas Hill Country.
If you have any tips on locations that I missed, please contact me on the Grahm's Guide Facebook page or via e-mail.
SPOILER ALERT: The descriptions below include plot points of the film. The movie is available in a Blu-ray set along with Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry, a 1974 car chase flick that also stars Peter Fonda.
Race with the Devil opens inside a motorcycle shop as Frank works with employees to check some last-minute items before he leaves for a vacation.
My best guess is that this sequence was filmed inside what was then the Cycle World store at 8930 Broadway St, San Antonio, TX 78217. Based on the Google Street View, the building façade was remodeled around April 2016. As Frank walks out of the door, there’s a brief glimpse through the window at some signs outside, and there are similar signposts outside of this building.
Reference: A van seen later in the film bears the Cycle World address, which I verified via the web.
Frank and the wives head to a racetrack, where Roger is putting a motorcycle through its paces. After Roger’s test race, Frank proudly shows off his new Vogue motorhome, in which the couples will be traveling. Roger also gets some technical help from Cal Mathers (played by Paul A. Partain, of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre).
The track was the Pan American Speedway, at Toepperwein Rd, Live Oak, TX 78233, which closed in 1978.
Remnants of the former track are still visible on Google Maps, but the area is unreachable without trespassing. Please do not trespass.
Reference: I was fortunate to find a message board thread discussing the connections between the movie, the racetrack, and the track owner, the late Ricci Ware, who has a speaking part in this scene.
Driving by The Alamo
As the Marshes and Stewarts leave San Antonio, their motorhome is seen driving past the world-famous Alamo.
The drive by The Alamo, 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, may seem unusual today because the street where the RV is seen has been closed to vehicle traffic since 1994.
Reference: I recognized the location based on several visits to the storied landmark.
Within a few hours of driving, Roger mentions that Kelly and Alice are ready to stop for the night. Frank pulls the Vogue off of the main road to find a secluded spot, and finds a tree-lined area alongside a tranquil river where the travelers can make camp for the night.
I have been unable to locate the campsite seen in the film. If you know where it is, please feel free to contact me.
Frank and Roger set out on their “dirt bikes” to take advantage of the remaining daylight and the Hill Country terrain. On a hill overlooking the valley, they stop to place a bet with each other.
I have been unable to locate the motorcycle racing area seen in the film. If you know where it is, please feel free to contact me.
The Sheriff’s Office
A planned night of restful camping becomes a nightmarish encounter with the forces of darkness, forcing the vacationing couples to seek help from the local law. A smiling Sheriff Taylor (R.G. Armstrong) welcomes the travelers to his office, and begins his investigation, soon driving off with Roger and Frank.
In the parking lot, Alice and Kelly clean up the RV, but a threatening note prompts them to walk from the parking lot toward the downtown area.
The Sheriff’s Office seen in the movie is actually a private home at 1311 Fiorella St, Castroville, TX 78009. The home has a Texas Historical Commission marker designating it as the Louis Haller House.
Reference: I located this site after locating the library shown later.
Please respect the property and privacy of the residents of this private home.
Alice and Kelly visit the local library to research the menacing note left on the RV, and abscond with a reference book on witchcraft.
The Library exterior is the Castroville City Hall, 1209 Fiorella St, Castroville, TX 78009. The red brick trim provides an interesting contrast to the light stone covering the building.
Reference: The locations for this town were easy to locate using the IMDb page for locations from the movie. Once I determined the location of the library from a Texas Escapes page, the other sites in town fell into place.
Sherman Young's Gas Station
Sheriff Taylor recommends “Sherman Young, north end of town” for repairs. Roger drives to the gas station, where a mechanic (Phil Hoover) patches the window as the couples discuss their predicament.
The gas station building once stood at the corner of Paris Street at Fiorella Street, Castroville, TX 78009, but has since been demolished. Supposedly in another part of town, the site is only a block from the Sheriff’s Office, and eagle-eyed viewers can spot it earlier when Sheriff Taylor drives into his parking lot.
Reference: The prominent church spire seen in the background on-screen helps identify this location, and the Library location can be spotted in the background.
The RV Park
The couples seek a bit of relaxation in an RV Park with all of the amenities, although a swim in the pool isn’t as relaxing as Kelly had hoped.
Later, friendly, perhaps too friendly, RV park neighbors Jack (Clay Tanner) and Ethel (Carol Blodgett) Henderson invite themselves into the Vogue, and invite the couples to dinner.
I have been unable to locate the RV park campground seen in the film. If you know where it is, please feel free to contact me.
Arkey Blue’s Silver Dollar
The insistent Hendersons invite the Marshes and Stewarts to a local honky-tonk for dinner, where the band plays a catchy song called “Living On Credit.” As they start into “Misty Hours of Daylight,” a classic barroom brawl breaks out.
The bar is the real Arkey Blue's Silver Dollar, 308 Main St, Bandera, TX 78003, and Arkey and the Blue Cowboys play there most Saturday nights, so it’s definitely worth a visit.
Reference: Arkey Blue is listed in the credits, and the connection is listed on the Wikipedia entry for Bandera.
Faster Than the Father of Lies
When the RV gets back on the road, the Devil’s drivers are hot on their tail, so to speak. Throughout the thrilling chase scenes, some of the same locations can be seen more than once, even if the RV, theoretically, would be miles down the road. I’ll chalk up this fractured geography to confusion sown by the Devil, rather than being a product of low-budget filmmaking in the days before home video allowed slow motion viewing.
Box Truck Battle Zone
Several trucks surround the RV, leading to an action-packed road battle. In a highway cut in the hill, a red pickup truck races over the ridge to get in front of the RV, and Frank’s shooting causes a box truck to flip over on the hillside.
In a later sequence, a Chevelle and a Delmont 88 race through the same cut to catch up with the RV.
The box truck battle takes place along Ranch Road 12, Wimberley, TX 78676, at approximately 29°57'54.47" N 98°05'29.86" W.
Reference: I don’t quite remember how I discovered this location, but I think I figured it out based on the location of the bridge seen later.
The Red Pickup Bridge
The persistent red pickup truck manages to keep up with the RV, until Roger’s well-timed bump launches the pickup off of the bridge in a fiery explosion that ends in a river 40-feet below.
The site of the explosion is the Blanco River bridge on Ranch Rd 12, Wimberley, TX 78676. When I visited in 2012, the bridge appeared much as it had in 1975. However, a devastating flood in May 2015, damaged the bridge (video here), and the new guardrails seem to be more solidly built.
Reference: A review of the film on Amazon mentions this location.
This is not a pedestrian-friendly bridge, so please be cautious if you visit this site. Don’t walk onto the bridge.
Also, see below to learn more about the tragic events of the flooding in 2015.
The Railroad Bridge and the Grassy Triangle
The RV passes under a railroad bridge on a low-lying vehicle bridge where a cult member hanging on the RV gets a kick from Roger that sends the Devil worshipper into the drink.
Later, a cult-member we’ll call the Beer Belly Bandit (due to the stuntman’s heavily padded midsection) takes a blast from Roger’s shotgun and lands in a grassy triangle.
Soon, another cultist, who we’ll dub the Bota Bag Bomber, climbs to the RV’s roof to empty bota bags of gasoline into the vents, but his inattentiveness is his undoing when Frank drives under a low-hanging section of a railroad bridge, sending the Satanist crashing to the ground.
Almost immediately, Frank in the RV, and the pursuers, all dodge a house being hauled on the bed of a truck.
Then, with only the Delmont 88 in chase, it is seen racing around a curve to catch up with the Vogue.
All of these scenes occur within about 100 meters of the intersection of Post Road at Old Stagecoach Road, San Marcos, TX 78666, about 20 miles downstream from the Red Pickup Bridge. When I first visited in 2012, the low-lying vehicle bridge appeared much as it had in the film. However, this bridge was knocked out by the flood in May 2015, and the bridge has been rebuilt.
Reference: I found this area thanks to an old comment on the Two Wheeled Texans forum. I later found a March 1975 interview with Warren Oates during filming at this location.
Also, see below to learn more about the tragic events of the flooding in 2015.
In October 2016, I was fortunate to attend a special screening of Race with the Devil at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, with special guest Gary Chason in attendance. Mr. Chason, who performed casting duties for the film, also regaled the audience with stories of corralling Fonda and Oates, who both had a reputation for enjoying their time off the set. It was a treat to meet someone so involved in the filmmaking community.
Memorial Day Weekend 2015 Flooding
Forty years after Race with the Devil had filmed along the Blanco River, real-life terror struck during severe flooding along the river on May 23, 2015, during the Memorial Day weekend. (For a thorough examination of the tragic events please read “When the River Rises” by Jamie Thompson.)
As mentioned above, the “Red Pickup Bridge” from the movie is actually on Ranch Road 12 over the Blanco River at Wimberley, and in the photos above, you’ll notice a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gage (not “gauge”) at the bridge. Gages measure the stage (aka gage height), meaning the height of the water above a certain point.
From my limited understanding, it appears that the Blanco River at Ranch Road 12 usually runs at about four to five feet. On the night of Saturday, May 23, 2015, rains upstream swelled the Blanco, causing the river to rise “from near 5 feet at 9pm to near 41 feet by 1am,” finally cresting a few feet over the bridge.
According to the Austin-American Statesman, “The ‘wall of water,’ as it is frequently described, was measured at 42 feet in Wimberley before it wiped out the water-level gauge. The U.S. Geological Services (sic) has since estimated that it peaked at 44.9 feet.”
That USGS gage, seen intact in my 2012 photo above, is seen at left, after raging floodwaters knocked it off its perch along Ranch Road 12.
As the height of the river rapidly increased, it increasingly affected the people who were living and vacationing along the river. “When the River Rises” recounts some of the chaos as emergency services were inundated with desperate calls for help.
One couple in their 70s, who’d been married for 50 years, scrambled to climb onto the roof of their house, only to see the husband swept away in the flood. His body was found 30 miles downriver, in San Marcos.
A widely-known tragedy of that night, detailed in “When the River Rises,” involved six adults and three children spending the weekend in a vacation home along the river. Late in the night, the entire home was ripped from its foundation, and within minutes, the floating home slammed into the Ranch Road 12 bridge, tearing apart large portions of the house, but not stopping its deadly downstream trajectory. When the unthinkable tragedy was over, the only survivors were one father and his family’s dog.
Reports state that 13 people died due to the floods. Out of respect for the victims, I’m not posting their names in association with the movie, but if you visit the filming locations along the Blanco River, please spare a moment, a thought, a prayer, to commemorate their real-life tragedy.