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Epsom Downs Race Track At 9700 Humble Rd.


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Check the "Houston - Remember When Links".

At least it's a step in the right direction.  Wish I could have seen these shows.

I have no idea if this is the same one but I saw in an old microfiche at the library from the circa 1905-1910 mention of a horse race venue over on the East End somewhere near where Eastwood is now.

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Epsom Downs is mentioned here, but no indication where it was. The East end racetrack that I mentioned was called Harrisburg Raceway.

You are here: HoustonPBS Productions > Houston Remember When: Vol. 3

Houston Remember When, Vol. 3:

Just for Fun

Discover Houston's One-of-a-Kind Personality Through Some of It's Most Unusual Entertainment Venues

iding ponies at Kiddie Wonderland, swinging at the High Hat and picking the winning horse at Epsom Downs

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Epsom Downs was on Humble Road (Jensen Drive) at about the location where it intersects with today's Eastex Fwy. It opened in 1933 and closed in 1937 when Texas outlawed pari-mutuel betting. It was horse racing only. There was covered seating for 7,800. There are two streets nearby that memorialize it: Epsom Street and Downs Lane.


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We have Epsom Downs to thank for Felix Restaurants. It was founded in the 30s by Felix and Janie Tijerina. Here is an exerpt from a tribute given upon Janie's death in 1997 by Kent Bentsen;

In the 1930s, the Tijerinas were a struggling couple in Houston. He had tried to launch a restaurant, and they were living in a spare, one-room house.

One day, her boss at a variety store gave her $50 to bet on a horse at Epsom Downs, the area's former horse track. He was such a skinflint, she knew he wouldn't risk that much money unless he was sure the horse would win.

She had promised her husband to stop gambling but couldn't resist betting on the same horse. She hocked her jewelry and furs and their car, plus got a few dollars from other shop girls, and bet $450.

The horse won, but Felix, then a beer truck driver, was shocked and said: `Janie, what have you done?'

She confessed about reneging on her promise, gave him the winnings (about $1,100 after their property was redeemed), told him to open a restaurant and pledged, `You're going to be the only boss.'

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  • 4 months later...

This web site receives dozens of letters each month from people trying to research bits of Houston history. A letter I got today was from a woman looking for information on Epsom Downs. She found an old poster and wanted to know more about it:


So, here's what I wrote back to her. I thought the group might find it interesting.


Epsom Downs was an upscale horse racing facility. It was open just three years from 1933 to 1937 and was considered one of the top two race tracks in the state (along with Arlington Downs). Those dates coincide with when the state legislature approved betting on horse racing, and then when the legislature outlawed horse betting. Pari-mutuel betting was allowed once again in 1987, which allowed Gulf Greyhound Park and Sam Houston Race Park to open. The first race at Epsom was Thanksgiving Day, 1933. Its last race was March 27, 1937. It was the largest of the Texas tracks, with seating for 10,000, though 25,000 people showed up for the first race. Epsom Downs was located in the southeast part of the city in an area near Jensen Drive. Epsom Downs was named after a race track that the British royal family still visits in Epsom, England.

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Very interesting... Editor, did you mean to say "northeast" part of the city, rather than "southeast"?

I noticed on Mapquest, that there is also a street named "Epsom Drive" right there in the neighborhood of Jensen Dr and Parker Rd. I wonder if Epsom Drive was named for the racetrack or vice versa?

This web site receives dozens of letters each month from people trying to research bits of Houston history.
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • The title was changed to Epsom Downs Race Track At 9700 Humble Rd.

Looks like Epsom Downs was first a horse racing course, and decades later become an automobile course.

I was browsing old Texas newspaper and came across articles dated 1930s and 1950s.  I'll post them below.

W.A. Lee, left and Emil H. Marks, president and vice president of the Epsom Downs Rodeo Company, will direct three days of bronc hustling calf roping and steer "rasslin" at Epsom Downs Race Track. Lee is a Houston hotel man, and Marks a Barker, Texas rancher.

The automobile race track in the 1950s was called, or nicknamed, North Houston Speedway on Humble Road.

November 15, 1934


November 13, 1936



February 28, 1957


From tshaonline.org:


From HAIF's main front page:


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The track is clearly visible in the 1944 aerial from Google Earth


In 1953, there's a subdivision there, but traces of the track are still visible. Note the drive in theater to the Southwest


Today, not traces of the track exist, the EastTex freeway runs right through the middle of the location


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