Thursday, February 11, 2016

Rough and ready Ascot

Here is a nice shot of Ascot that shows its true nature. Ascot never was a show place. The track was a sun bleached dirt patch surrounded by the immense concrete jungle of Los Angeles. You drove into Ascot and navigated the parking lot which was always in need of repaving. You then bought your ticket from someone in a crummy wooden booth that they rolled into place for the event. Then you climbed the stairs and entered hallowed ground. You were now facing lengths of corrugated iron walls (that were to stop folks from walking under the stands) and buildings which were the race control tower, food and beer stands. Ascot always had a strong smokey aroma going on. Not Bean Oil but burning Burgers and Dogs that was a continuous plume of greasy smoke that blew all over the track depending on the wind which was usually headed east, right off the mighty Pacific Ocean.The stands went down to the track and the view was incredible from Turn 4 to half way around 1. Not a bad seat in the house. One of the best things about Ascot was the stands were right on the track. You can see in the photo the fence wasn't very substantial in 1967 and really didn't improve much over the years. The spectator area in Turn 1 ended right about where the Sprint Cars, on occasion, bounced up and over the fence and sometimes into the parking lot. Dirt was always flying everywhere and experienced fans who sat in their favorite spots down low and close to the track, had hand held clear plastic shields so they didn't get hit in the face with dirt clods. More often than not you would get dirt clods in your beer, no biggie. Probably the best seat in motorsports was sitting in the stands at turn one looking down the front straight at the start of a Sprint Car race. The pack would hurtle down straight at you flat out and just about in unison the whole field would flick'em sideways and barrel into turn one wide open and full lock. Another incredible experience was going right down to start line and being feet from the bikes when they lined up. You could eat the energy down there. Then they would blast off and you would wait right there for the whole pack to come by at 100+ right up against the fence and literally only a few feet away. If that didn't get your heart beating a lot faster, you would have to be dead. One of our favorite spots to watch was right down at the end of the fence in this shot. The green area you can see was standing room only and gave a great view of the whole track and excellent 3 and 4 spectating. The wood boards around the outside of the track took a beating from all kinds action that took place at the track on at least four nights a week during the racing season. And from the looks of it they had to be pretty beaten up to warrant any work at all. This photo is from a BSA Ad and what they were trying to convey with the Mobster with binocs is beyond me. The Agajanians were fancy dressers for sure but I never saw a guy in a white suit and tie, trench coat and fedora at a Dirt Track.