While cool temperatures, and perhaps Christmas shopping, handcuffed the attendance, the car count was higher than recent years and approached a record. As a matter of fact, with the pit area already crowded with the high number, late entries arrived as the first of the racing was under way.
"It's the last time we get to race on pavement," said David Ross, a Colton resident who lives just minutes from the quarter-mile track that first opened in 1947. "I think a lot of us would have raced for nothing just to be here for the last time.
With the night of activity, OSS was able to extend its record streak of continuous racing to 66 years, a standard in the state. When racing resumes in February under a new promoter, the venue will have be transformed into a dirt track.
But for the time being, it was all about asphalt and the memories. Each driver of the 140-plus cars on the grounds had a thought about the venue, as did many of the 2,000 spectators.
However, Wally Pankratz probably had the longest and most versatile set of flashbacks. One of the nation's premier sprint car drivers, Pankratz first set foot at the Orange Show in 1962 as a prep football player.
"I played for Garden Grove and we played Pacific," Pankratz said while working on his racer driven by student Connie Kakasisle of Fresno. "The track was dirt then. In 1963, I played for Fullerton College against San Bernardino Valley College, the track was paved."
Pankratz, who said he covered the late Swede Savage as a receiver for Pacific, later returned to race in San Bernardino. Five years ago, he opened a driving school at OSS but will return in 2013 driving a dirt car.
Barry Karr of Redlands, a former OSS champion, was back to keep a family tradition. His grandfather and father also raced at the track.
"This is heartbreaking," said Ross, who started at the track when he was 15 and won the Super late Model title in 2010. "There are just a lot of friends and family out here. We've grown up together."
Toni McCray, whose father Rick was a one-time OSS promoter after his NASCAR career, was all smiles.
"Everybody is helping everybody, the way it should be," said McCray, who's not competed at OSS in two years. "One big happy happy."
Even those in the stands. Former racer Leonard Rice of Yucaipa was accompanied by his son Bob and shared memories of following his father to the track in 1948 as a 10-year-old.
"My favorite memory? Being upside down after a crash," said Rice. "Those were great days."