PERRIS, California — The 6th Legends of Ascot reunion luncheon-induction ceremonies took place Saturday, October 23 at Perris Auto Speedway. The fete attracted participants and fans of racing action at the famed Ascot Park, the legendary half-mile clay track in Gardena that operated from June, 1957 through November, 1990. Organized by former USAC Midget driver/car owner Don Weaver and Belita Michnowicz, the event had 380 persons in attendance for a buffet luncheon and induction ceremonies from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm. The luncheon site was a fairgrounds building beyond the first turn of the PAS half-mile. Chris Holt, the knowledgeable Ascot/PAS infield announcer, again emceed the affair. Honorees this year were: Evelyn Pratt, 90, a long-time pit steward; Tony Simon, 64, retired CRA and USAC sprint car and midget driver; plus a lifetime achievement award to Cary Agajanian and his brothers J. C., Jr and Chris for carrying on racing promotions of their father J. C. Sr. (deceased in May 1984). Deceased honorees this year were: Vel Miletich, car owner who had stars Allen Heath and Parnelli Jones as drivers among others, including six Indianapolis 500 drivers. – plus CRA sprint car driver Paul Jones, Parnelli's younger brother, who passed away on 5/15/02.
Each of the 380 attendees received with their $55.00 ticket a gift bag that included a Legends of Ascot 52-page official program (in color) and a LofA stick pin, name tag with a ticket for the salad, roll, beverage, beef and chicken luncheon. The printed program contained biographies and photos of each honoree, a two-page center section aerial view of the Ascot Park track, numerous Ascot action racing photos from many photographers (with a group credit for the photographers). There also was a “Passing the Torch” page that depicted racing generations (Billy Boat and son Chad, Mike Spencer, his dad Mike, and grandpa Bob, Bobby Michnowicz and FF Midget driver/son Kevin, 16, Rip Williams, 55, and his three racing sons—Cody, 21, Austin, 20, and Logan, 14). Ascot scenes and drivers in the photos brought back memories for Ascot racing veterans. The LofA luncheon ticket also included a wristband that granted attendees admission to the PAS grandstand for the evening of open-wheel racing by AMS/OIL USAC-CRA 410 cu. in. sprint cars, USAC Ford Focus Midgets and Junior FF Midgets, plus WRA Vintage Car racing by 11 cars present (6 midgets, 3 sprints and 2 CRA roadsters).
About 20 vintage racing cars were positioned in front of the luncheon building for attendees to view and discuss with the current owners. Cars included midgets, sprints, Indianapolis 500 and champ dirt cars. Some of the cars were:
> The florescent red No. 60 STP Indianapolis 500 car raced by Joe Leonard.
> The restored No. 21 HOW Spl. USAC champ dirt car raced by Elmer George that later was shortened and became the Jimmy Mayeda CRA No. 30 sprinter and the No. 36 Terry Kawell CRA sprinter.
> The No. 124 CRA sprint car raced by LofA honoree Tony Simon.
> The black No. 99 Offy roadster midget with four-wheel independent suspension built and owned by Don Edmunds, who now resides near Brookings, Oregon.
> The circle 8 and No. 43 CA Roadster Assn roadsters from the 1940s-early 50s.
LofA luncheon attendees included: Andy (STP-”They Call Me Mr. 500”) Granatelli & his brother (Vince), Indy 500 veterans Parnelli Jones, 1959 CRA champion Chuck Hulse and 1957 Indy 500 rookie of the year Don Edmunds, plus expert mechanics Jim Dilamarter, Smokey Alleman, and Andy Casale, and Oklahoma driver/promoter Shane Carson. Agajanian, Kazarian and Miletich families were well represented. Joyce Jones, widow of Paul, was present with her grandchildren. Other racing widows in attendance were: Anne Wilkerson, Dottie Kennedy, Sally (Sweeney)-now Hogle, plus late CRA president Walt James' daughter Wendy. Ken “Wagtimes” Wagner worked the side memorabilia booth. CRA starters Steve Vodden and Bryan Howard (the current IZOD Indy Car starter for the Indy 500 during odd number years and at other Indy Car tracks). Past CRA officials present were: NSCHofF member Louie Senter, 90, past CRA presidents Ed Hudson, 88, and Dave Vodden, timer-scorer Dave Ondo, Ascot track ace Rico Hawkes, racing photographers Ed Hollowell, Mike Arthur and Jim Chini, videographer Howie Zechner, El Centro promoter Mickey Dale, and racing innovator Bob Falcon.
Ascot drivers spotted in the audience were: Don Thomas, Bob Coulter, Don Melton, Bob Hogle, Jimmy Oskie, Jay East, Don Ewart, John Redican, Don Hamilton, Steve Chassey, Rip Williams, Tommy Hunt, Bobby Michnowicz, Danny Lewis, Mike Kennedy, Jerry Hudson, Lee Leonard, Gene Ellis, Ron Rea (now retired for work for two years and living in Las Vegas) Steve Howard, Steve Ostling, Dave Ondo, Jimmy Voitel, Mike Sweeney (with his German-born wife and son, 9, and daughter 7), Alex Grigoreas, Chuck Hulse, Jr. and Page Jones. Parnelli's younger son Page (given first name Peter) will be the 2010 USAC Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix grand marshal on November 25. Page, now 38 is married and the father of two, is the subject of a film being taped by producer Mary Leonard for spring 2011 release. Titled “Godspeed: the story of Page Jones”, the film will inspire and provide hope for others affected by traumatic brain injury. USAC sprint car/midget winner Page received critical injuries at Eldora Speedway in Ohio as his racing career was progressing rapidly. See www.Godspeedpj.com for more information about the project. Jeff Kristensen's Raceway Video taped the Legends of Ascot luncheon and the PAS open-wheel racing events later that evening. His DVD of both events is available for $30.00 with checks made payable to Jeff. For more information check www.racewayvideo.com.