No Brakes, No Problem: Ascot's South Bay Speedway

September 04 2023 – Chris Agajanian

No Brakes, No Problem: Ascot's South Bay Speedway
No Brakes, No Problem: Ascot's South Bay Speedway

In 1984… changes were happening in and around Ascot Raceway:

• The Games of the XXIII Olympiad came to town

• The Space Shuttle Discovery launched its maiden flight

• The first Apple Macintosh went on sale

• Ghostbusters and Indiana Jones were box office hits

• Tina Turner and Wham topped the charts with "What's Love got to do with it" and "Wake Me up Before You Go"

• Magnum, P.I. and Dynasty commanded the airwaves

• And JC Agajanian died at age 72

“A purpose-built Speedway Motorcycle track had been on my radar since the first day I started promoting motorcycle races back in the early 70s”, recalls promoter Chris Agajanian. “With my father’s wishes and the auctioning off of the Los Angeles Olympic Games’ assets, it seemed the perfect time”.

The shining star that was Ascot South Bay Stadium made its debut in true Olympic regalia. The 5,000 seats that once accompanied cheers for the Olympic Swim Stadium while adorned with the colorful bunting of the Summer Games now surrounded one of the first energy-absorbing crashwalls in motorcycle racing history.

Broadcast-quality lighting shimmered the infield’s turf as it provided the rich lumens required for Speedway racing’s first nationally televised weekly program, “Speedway America”, one of the longest running and highest rated motorcycle shows of its time.

The track was designed to be a little longer (making it a little faster) than the short but popular bullrings of Southern California. So the action was quick and the speeds were high.

However, if there was one thing that made Ascot South Bay Stadium stand out from the competition, it was its heartbeat. The mega-watt, concert-quality, chest-pounding, sound system purchased from the Beach Boys and equipped with its own personal Disk Jockey… was another first in motorcycle racing. To the delight of the crowd, the dedicated mix-master inserted a party in between each heat race.

It was the perfect showcase for one of the most exciting forms of motorcycle racing in the nation.


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