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History

10 L.A. Sports Venues That Are No More

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Mon, Dec 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

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click to enlarge Los Angeles Speedway - C.C. PIERCE & CO., LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY PHOTO COLLECTION
  • C.C. Pierce & Co., Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
  • Los Angeles Speedway

Los Angeles Speedway

It's difficult to fathom now, but early in the 20th Century, nearly all major raceways were made of wood. The first board track operated in Playa del Rey from 1910 to 1912, but one of the most epic was Los Angeles Speedway. Located between Wilshire, Beverly, Olympic and Spalding, the track was 1.25 miles in length with 35 degree banking and a capacity of 80,000 to 100,000. Jimmy Murphy won the opening race on February 28, 1920. The track also held motorcycle races. Despite huge crowds, escalating land values forced a sale to developers. The final race was held February 24, 1924. The operators built another board track at Culver City, with even steeper banking, that operated from 1924 through 1927.

click to enlarge Ascot Motor Speedway, later known as Legion Ascot Speedway, c. 1927 - LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY PHOTO COLLECTION
  • Los Angeles Public Library Photo Collection
  • Ascot Motor Speedway, later known as Legion Ascot Speedway, c. 1927

Legion Ascot Speedway

Located north of the intersection of Valley & Soto, the 5/8th-mile banked dirt oval opened as Ascot Motor Speedway on January 20, 1924. It prospered under the management of the Glendale American Legion in the late 20s and early 30s, becoming an L.A. sport hotspot, with movie stars such as Clark Gable in attendance and weekly radio broadcasts. Hopes of landing national-level racing ended when Al Gordon and riding mechanic Spider Matlock fatally crashed during a January 26, 1936 race. Faced with huge improvement costs during the Depression, the track closed -- and the grandstand burned down three months later. Now it's housing and Multnomah Elementary School. The name lives on in Ascot Hills Park.

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