Ventura County Drive-in Revival

By R.S. Rodriguez

While reflecting upon growing up in Southern California during the 60s and 70s, some memories are constant. I grew up in western Ventura County and as a teenager; I often had access to one of my parents’ two cars. I also lived within a ten mile radius from the former Sky-View Drive-In south of “Five Points’ in Oxnard and the “101 Drive-In” in Ventura, which hugged the world-recognized 101 Highway (the former had one screen; the latter, three).


Oxnard California is a blue-collared, small town nestled between an-already-thriving Santa Barbara in the late 60s about 35 miles north of us; and what would become a percolating real estate market 30 miles south, Malibu. (To quote a contemporary, well-loved southern-California radio sports-talk personality Vic “The Brick” Jacobs: “Who knew!”).

We were children in the 60s when we were first exposed to drive-ins. Our older brothers and sisters would round us up; taking us in the family station wagon; parking on a slope before a giant white screen; rolling the window down half-way in order to attach a cast iron speaker onto the window; hustling to the snack bar to purchase tubs of popcorn, hotdogs and refreshments (if money was tight, we would bring homemade burritos and tacos).

I miss the drive-ins in Southern California. I’m sure there are many of my generation who periodically share similar sentiments. I do have an idea, however.

With today’s technological advances, HD screens, pixel counts coupled with great advances in automobile technology and the availability of vast stretches of commercial and abandoned land (the land where the Sky-View Drive-In stood in Oxnard has remained a vacant lot for 20 years), I say it’s high time the drive-in stages a comeback! Sure, I may be reminiscing some and it may not be a viable business model with computers, flat screen TVs and home theaters.

Yet, as a teenager, the adventure of going to the drive-in with family or with a car load of friends (or on a date) was something to often look forward to on a Friday or Saturday night. The technology then was somewhat rudimentary, yet appreciated. Imagine how awesome it would be to pull up onto a drive-in stall with a high-tech, mega-pixel 200 ft by 100 ft giant screen with surround sound speakers in ones’ car.

The drive-in needs to stage a comeback.