On the night of November 22, 1990 — Thanksgiving Day — a pack of midget cars did 100 laps of Ascot Park in Gardena, California. After the checkered flag fell, they turned off the lights, and that was the end of it for Ascot Park.
Autoweek was there for the final race; Joe Scalzo, an Ascot regular, wrote about it for December 24, 1990 issue. There were more famous SoCal tracks lost to time and progress, like the Riverside International Raceway and the Ontario Motor Speedway, but Ascot was something special.
Opened in 1957 byJ.C. Agajanian, a race team owner and event organizer perhaps best known for his successes at the Indianapolis 500, “the whole thing was a semi-secret, we wrote. “On a given Saturday night, for example, you might witness the greatest race you’d ever seen. But on Sunday morning, in the un- likely event your newspaper carried any results at all, they’d be buried in the meanest agate type.”
Its half-mile dirt track surface saw flat-track motorcycle races, sprint car events featuring nationally known names before the whole thing was sallowed up by the manic sprawl that is southern California. The subdivsion that sprang up a stone’s from where Ascot was probably wouldn’t have appreciated the noise, anyway.
So, this Thanksgiving, give thanks for your local race track (if you still have one) and be thankful for the memories from your favoritelong-gone circuits of yore.