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Ana Torres – Paso Robles Local / Halloween Enthusiast

Happy spooky season readers! Tis the season of witches, curses and spooky tales.

Speaking of curses. If you have ever found yourself traveling into Paso Robles via Highway 46, congratulations, you have survived the infamous ‘Blood Alley’ route and deserve some wine when you arrive. “Blood Alley” refers to an area East of Paso Robles, near Cholame. This area is a popular route for travelers and is where hwy 41 & 46 intersect. Dubbed “blood alley” by locals, it has a much more ominous history.

Nicknamed after the high number of deaths, and head on collisions, this highway interchange has been where over 30 people were killed between 2000-2010 and I am sorry to report we have still have a high number of fatalities due to car accidents. Specifically at intersections, so be careful out there folks!

Getting a little specific about accidents… one of the most famous accidents which took place on Blood Alley was the accident causing the death of heart throb actor James Dean. As a local, the story told was that he was driving at exceedingly high speeds on the highway in preparation for a race which ultimately resulted in his death. The more accurate story was that the actor was preparing for a real race called the Salinas Road Race in October 1955.

While breaking in his new Porsche 550 Spyder for the race, he was in fact speeding while driving between Los Angeles and Salinas, Dean received one speeding ticket for over 10mph over the speed limit. Just after stopping in Blackwells Corner (a location just outside of Bakersfield along hwy 41), a young Cal Poly student attempted to make a left turn on to highway 46W toward hwy 101 and Paso Robles. After stating “… he has to see us coming…. “Dean was unable to stop before the collision due to excessive speed. Dean was pronounced dead at the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital.

Sadly, this is a common cause of collisions on Blood Alley. So moral of the story – stop speeding and be patient!

Now, on to the spooky stuff during the fallout of James Dean’s accident. Prior to Dean’s Los Angeles departure with the Porsche, it was said by a fellow actor Alec Guinness, “That Porsche immediately gave off a sinister feeling!” He swore to never get in the car. George Barris, who customized the “Little Bastard” also had a bad feeling when Dean decided to drive the car to Salinas as opposed to trailering it behind his station wagon. After the car was considered a “total loss,” George Barris purchased the car from the insurance company for $2,500 with the intention of parting it out. When the car was delivered to Barris’ shop, it slipped off its trailer, and broke both of a mechanic’s legs when it landed on him.

An owner of the used transmission was killed in a sports car race shorty after. Two of the wheels were sold and put on another race car. It was said that both tires blew out at the same time causing the car to wreck on the track.

Later, while housed storage unit, the vehicle mysteriously caught fire. For a short while, the “Little Bastard” was loaned out as an exhibit to prevent careless driving by the California Highway Patrol, making its way all over California. While near Salinas, the truck transporting it was involved in a serious accident. The driver, George Barkhuis, was ejected from the cab. Though injured, Barkhuis initially survived. However, just after the accident, the “Little Bastard” suddenly rolled off the flatbed and landed on Barkhuis, crushing him to death.

Where is the “Little Bastard” today? No one knows. It went missing in 1960 and it was never seen again…

Local lore says it there have been sightings the car driving down Blood Alley and you can still hear the sounds of the fatal collision that cut short Dean’s life. Are they true? I guess next time you visit the Pianetta tasting room you will need to find out for yourself.


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