AscotThe story of the iconic dirt track that defined Southern California racing; from it's beginnings in 1903 as a horse track, then as a one mile dirt track in L.A., then as New Ascot Raceway in East L.A. which became Legion Ascot and finally Southern Ascot in Southgate. Los Angeles Speedway was built in 1957 on the site of a former landfill just south of Gardena. The promoter got into financial difficulties and it became New Ascot Stadium and eventually just Ascot. Read the book to see why it closed in 1990. 399 Pages - 8 1/2 x 11 - B&W. Autographed by the author; comes with a DVD of all the photos and, newspaper / magazine articles in the book plus an assortment of videos.
Read the review from LACar.com (edited for brevity) -This is a feisty, tough little (is 399 pages with what must be a thousand photos really “little”?) MOFO (of a book) that triggers memories long dulled by watching racing live, and in person TV racing from four of five camera angles and then again from the blimp or fast-flying drone and over and over in replay. Ascot was a blink and you’ll miss it, in your face, wall to wall. It was a “shut the (heck) up and race” joint that some seem to master, but that very few had a real wrap-around view of. That track seemed to thrive on being mythical, moody, a place where almost everything went for even the best of them and winning was a cause for great celebration.
It has always been something of and anomaly that no book (until now) had been written about the place where some of the greatest dirt short track racing ever seen had thrilled generations of Angelenos over it’s short, 33-year life.If you were lucky enough to have been there, I’m sure noise and smells are hard to forget. Chevy V-8s screaming out while being tortured by competitors who had “tipped the can” and doctored the nasty, eye-watering methanol fuel with “liquid dynamite” (nitro-methane) to get a few horsepower over another racer and who’s motor oil spit out on to red-hot open exhaust.… In case you didn’t notice, this is a book that every LA motorsports fan of a certain age has been asking for for a long time now … a scrapbook of photos and news clips that recount (and remind in a lot of cases) of the glory that was Ascot, where the ambiance was not about the place, but exclusively about the sort racing that went on there for thirty-three years.
Although some raved about the burgers at the infield snack bar, they really were only moderately passable because, if you were in the infield, there was no way to get out while the races where being run.
There was a graveyard (honest) dead nuts (that’s an arcane racing term that means exactly, precisely) named Roosevelt Memorial Park just across Vermont Avenue from the front gates, rumors were passed that the track was the beneficiary of any excess dirt that was generated by that business. So far as this writer knows there never was any confirmation of that.
And then there’s the weather (not for nothing do they call the area “The South Bay”) being relatively close to the Pacific Ocean meant some cool, damp Summer nights and a well-hydrated track, that rarely if ever dusted up. In fact it also often called for warm clothes on almost any night after 8, a fact that became more pronounced as the racing calendar rolled on towards fall, all of which was doubtless good for sweat shirt sales.
Bench seats, no elevators, and basically cultist sections of fans would rule their own territories almost as if it was somehow a birthright. Marijuana possession and smoking was a criminal offense during the time of this track, but that never seemed to hinder the sickly-sweet odor of burning “weed” from being an important factor (either way) in seat location at Ascot.Like all dirt tracks, there was a cadre lurking down low in turn one, die-hard patriots who wouldn’t be happy watching from the owner’s box (as if Ascot would ever have had one). They wore eye-protection and face masks, loved to be pelted by fast-flying chunks of clay, and did not consider a beer to be a proper drink without (at least) a quarter inch of the track swirling around in the bottom of their beer cup.
And racing... oh the racing! Those who were to do battle and those that flocked to watch the battling on Ascot’s dirt will all tell you all about the epic battles that they sat witness to on the “short” half-mile. Measured on the outermost part of the racing surface (the crash fence) it clocked in as being on the skinny side of an official two thousand, six hundred, and forty feet long. But every foot, no matter what the tape made it, was jam-packed with real racing action at that joint.The growling motorcycles, the howling sprint cars, the screaming midgets, the high-flying off-road buggies and three-wheelers, the blunt force trauma of the demolition derby cars, the shouting parents of the bike-x kids, even the occasional “over-served” fan who decided to see what kind of a lap they could cut on foot, all conspired to make a very satisfying show at Ascot. It always managed to be that kind of place - the one where (the you know whats) COL-LIDE.Wolin’s use of photos - and contemporary news articles - pays off in the best way possible for the Ascot legend. There’s a ton of truth in this one. Thanks for all the memories Mister Wolin!