Ascot Park Returning in Another Form


Six years ago, shortly before the Ascot Park racetrack was torn down, Chris Agajanian meticulously measured the dimensions of the legendary dirt oval--the width of the track, the angle of the tight corners, the length of the long straightaways, everything that made it so demanding.

“I thought I’d get the exact specs and file them away, just in case something happened and we needed them some day,” said Agajanian, one of the sons of longtime racing promoter J.C. Agajanian, whose family did not build Ascot but operated it for many years before its closing in 1990.

The “some day” has arrived.

Chris Agajanian and his brother, Cary, are planning to re-create Ascot Park inside the horse racetrack at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona.


“It’ll be as close as possible to Ascot, with the extra benefits of having the turf club and the grandstands for viewing,” Chris said.

Although construction has not begun on the $200,000 project, the Agajanians already have booked three events--a World of Outlaws sprint car program Nov. 1-2, a 50-lap Don Peabody Memorial race as a climax to the Sprint Car Racing Assn. season Nov. 16, and the 100-lap Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix on Thanksgiving.

All three were staples of the Ascot Park schedule, particularly the Turkey Night race, held there for 30 of 31 years between 1960 and 1990. The race was at Saugus in 1991 and Bakersfield Speedway the last four years.

The Peabody race, named in honor of a U.S. Auto Club official killed in a plane crash in 1978, was discontinued after Ascot closed at the request of his widow, Norma. However, when the Agajanians asked to revive the race in his name at Pomona, she agreed.

The track will be a short half-mile, just like Ascot, and will be a permanent facility, unlike the Mickey Thompson off-road track that had to be taken down after each event. The horse race oval is five-eights of a mile.

“Putting a motor racing track inside the horse track is an idea we got from Lincoln, Neb.,” Agajanian said. “It’s just the opposite of Dover Downs in Delaware, where the Winston Cup stock car track is on the outside and the horses race on a smaller track in the infield.”

The Agajanians are also promoting a USAC Silver Crown race Oct. 20 on the Del Mar Fairgrounds horse racetrack. It will be the first automobile race on the track since 1949.

“There’s a curious thing about the Del Mar race,” Chris Agajanian said. “Babe Stapp promoted that race in ’49 and our dad had a car in it. This year we’re promoting it, and Babe’s son, Steve, will have a car in it. A second generation turnabout.”

Motor Racing Notes

MOTORCYCLES--Speedway bikes and sidecars share top billing Friday night at the Costa Mesa Speedway at the Orange County Fairgrounds. The same cast will be at Perris Auto Speedway on Wednesday night. . . . The Overseas Final, second round leading to the world speedway championships, was canceled last Sunday in Coventry, England, because of a rider strike. In its place, a domestic race was held, won by Chris Manchester of Cucamonga. Mike Faria of Riverside was seventh.

STOCK CARS--Cajon Speedway will hold Winston Racing Series sportsman Twin 25s Saturday night along with street stocks. . . . Kern County Raceway will feature legend cars Saturday night on the quarter-mile paved oval. The Sunday road racing program has been canceled.

SPRINT CARS--J.J. Yeley, with four Sprint Car Racing Assn. victories, and Rip Williams with three will battle it out Saturday night at Santa Maria Speedway. . . . IMCA winged sprinters, dwarf cars and karts are scheduled at Ventura Raceway on Saturday night.

MIDGETS--Jason Leffler of Long Beach has won two of the last three USAC western regional races and is challenging defending champion Billy Boat for the season lead. Leffler has 382 points to 474 for Boat. Both will be at Bakersfield Speedway in Oildale for Saturday night’s 30-lap main event. TQs will also be on the program.

MISCELLANY--Perris Auto Speedway will hold its first stadium off-road race Saturday night. . . . The Southern California Timing Assn. will hold a land speed meet Sunday at El Mirage dry lake.

HONORS--The late Ted Halibrand of Culver City and Paul Weirick of San Clemente were inducted into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame last Sunday in Knoxville, Iowa. Halibrand, who died in 1991, introduced steering gears, wheel hubs and brake assemblies that contributed to safety and performance of open-wheel race cars. Weirick, 85, owned the famous sprint car, “Poison Lil,” which Rex Mays and Duke Nalon drove in the 1930s. Mays won 12 consecutive races in it at Legion Ascot Speedway in 1935. . . . Mark Hotchkis of Pasadena received the Spirit of Mario Andretti Award as the Indy Lights driver “who best demonstrates the attitude and driving style of the legendary Andretti.”