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Mitch G. 05-21-2009 12:31 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
4 Attachment(s)
While visiting family in Lakewood, last summer I snuck into the old track, and brought my son and daughter with me. My wife who grew up at the track did not want to go in. My daughter shot some photo's. First, looking back down the front chute, toward turn 4. Then, form the front chute out over the infield, looking at the back chute stands, me and webby and our dad sat on the top row at the very end of the stands, closest to where the cars came out of the pits onto the track. Third photo is in the main grandstands, looking toward the announcers booth, from the turn one entrance.
Then a shot right about the start finish line, from the main chute stands. Late July of 2008, what memories.

Mitch G. 05-21-2009 12:41 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
O.K. some us strayed away from Lakeside, and Englewood, and Colorado National Speedway. My dream was to to to Ascot Park, Gardena CA. I had read about the CRA (California Racing Association) sprint cars, and the legendary dirt oval. I went for the first time in 1976 ....... WOW! Nowhere, ever, did sprint cars "back in" to the corners like the hero's of the CRA. I became hooked for life, even when owning and driving my own midget at Lakeside, and Raceland, and CNS, I dreamed of running a sprint car at Ascot. I never did, but I went out there many times, and attended the last ever sprint car race, and midget race held in November of 1990. Here is a couple of interesting shots from Gardena, CA.
This is Carrell Speedway, a 1/2 mile dirt track very successful from 1940 to 1954, this is 1954. If you look at the drive in theater just to the right of the speedway, to the right is a dark grove of trees, and a salvage yard. The white letters are hard to see, but it says "Future Ascot park site",
and that's where the great Ascot Speedway was built. Carrell Speedway suffered parking problems, and drainage trouble, and gave way to development in 1954.
In 1957 Ascot was built on an old land fill, it was a huge success, this is where legends were born, Parnelli Jones, Jim Hurtubise, Chuck Hulse, Bobby Unser, A.J. Foyt at ran midgets, and sprints many times at Ascot. In the photo below, you can see Ascot, this is 1962, you can see the drive in theater below and to the left of Ascot, and if you look carefully you can see half of the old Carrell Speedway oval under the words "Carrell Site", they built a street right through the middle of the track, and houses exist where the other end of the old 1/2 mile used to be.
[I]Ascot was a hit from 1957 till 1990, but alas the Agajanian family had let a developer buy and hold a option on the land. Land in So.Cal became way to valuable, and the new owner closed the track down, it sat vacant for years not making anybody any money, but was finally turned into a auto auction site.[/I]
I've highlighted the above few sentences because I need to correct my posting. I merely repeated what I've heard, and or read in the past, since Ascot was my personal favorite, and in my opinion the greatest dirt track in American history, I felt in necessary to update this post. I've had the great pleasure, and honor of being contacted by Cary Agajanian, the son of the legendary J.C. Agajanian, and he wanted me to set the record straight about the closing of Ascot Speedway. It's a long story, and deserves it's own thread, but for now, I'll write a quick recap of what happened. The land was owned by a Mr. and Mrs. Ziegler, it was a landfill, as far back as the 1930's, but some hopeful business men talked Zeigler into a lease on the property and built LA Speedway (by 1959 it became known as Ascot), it had it's ups and downs, by the 1970's it became obvious to the land owners, that only J.C. Agajanian (who would bring USAC national series to the speedway on special occasions), and his ties to USAC and legacy of successful auto racing promotions coast to coast, could stabilize, improve, and grow the speedway. With the lease in default, Agajanian stepped in, and the rest is history. J.C. Agajanian passed away in 1984, but Cary and his brothers, Chris and Jay, kept the legend going. The lease was up in 1990, Mrs. Ziegler decided to accept the rather "overly optimistic" offer by a land developer, over the existing arrangement with the Agajanian family, who were trying frantically to extend their lease, or even buy the property outright. The new lease holder tore the track down, only made Ziegler a couple payments, and went bust. Mrs. Ziegler wanted the Agajanian family back involved, but the city of LA had "grandfathered" the speedway into it's zoning laws, and would never again allow a race track to be built on that land, with the track torn down, it was a lost cause, this was as painful to the Agajanian family, as it was to it's legions of fans across the US. Again, I want to thank Cary Agajanian for being so gracious with his time, and to contact me and give me the important, and accurate history we try to put forth on our pages. And I'm still in depression over the closing of Ascot, it's why I drink so much.

webby 05-21-2009 01:58 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
Here is what Ascot looks like today...
(I made a overlay of where the track was in it's approximate location)
It now looks to be some type of parking lot but not one used for the public because the cars are packed in each row like 4 deep (you need to zoom in way closer to see how the cars are parked). Maybe it's a junk yard or possibly a car dealership? Anyone know?

Mitch G. 05-21-2009 04:00 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
5 Attachment(s)
Wow, webby that's pretty darn close, here are some Ascot photo's. Check out the aerial, you can see the water canal outside turn 3, and Vermont Ave running along the parking lot. The next photo is the main gate, entrance, up those stairs, through that entrance was something special, a lot like Lakeside Speedway. This double decker bus was outside turn one, you had to be hard core to go here, the mud from the sprint cars was like bullets, people used to watch the races with tear off's on their glasses, no kidding. The next photo is what you got to see once inside those hallowed gates, Steve Ostiling performing a typical Ascot "Broadslide"(early 1980's). Last photo, a sad fate for another great speedway, the remains of turn one.

webby 05-22-2009 09:42 AM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
In post #4 of this thread I posted a picture of where Englewood Speedway was and how it looks today.

Here it is again...

As you can see there is not a shred of evidence that a great race track was once there.

So I asked Mitch to overlay an image of Englewood on top of the shot so we could get a feel for where the track was in relation to the map. Mitch said this recreation should be fairly accurate and he took a bit of time making sure the scale was as close as possible.

Therefore... if Englewood hadn't been torn down it would be situated in the shot like this...

webby 05-29-2009 02:46 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
Mitch what do you know about this old track in Deer Trail Colorado?

webby 05-29-2009 02:58 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
This is where Continental Divide Raceways was located. This is about 2 miles south of Castle Rock Co. It doesn't look as if there is much evidence left of the track which was a road course, drag strip and half mile oval.

Here is a diagram of the track...

Continental Divide Raceways diagram overlay. I believe this is how the track was situated when it existed, based on the remnants of the track that are still there.

webby 05-29-2009 03:22 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
Continental Divide Raceways trivia... Evel Knievel performed there on July 30 1972. Were any of you there?

Rumor has it that Evel almost crashed his plane trying to land it on the drag strip at CDR.

Mitch G. 05-29-2009 04:19 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.
CDR is all housing now, I have a program from the "Rocky Mountain 150" USAC National Championsip race held on the road course. I was there in 1968, got to see A.J., Bobby Unser, Dan Gurney, Gordon Johncock, all those guys. I'll post the cover later. I don't know anything about the Deer Trail 1/2 mile, it's still there you can see it easily on I-70. I can't find any evidence there was ever an auto race there, it looks neat from the highway. The midget races on the paved track that appear on the DVD I made out of Dad's old 8mm movies, are from CDR's 1/2 mile paved oval, 1960 I believe.

GECCO 08-23-2009 09:33 PM

Re: Ghosts of Race Tracks gone by.

Originally Posted by webmaster (Post 516)
Mitch what do you know about this old track in Deer Trail Colorado?

I'm pretty sure that's actually a rodeo/fairgrounds facility with a 1/2 mile horse racing track around it. I'll be in the area in the next couple days and try to check it out to confirm.

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