Race Tracks

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The first of the two tracks in Culver City included the site of Carlson Park. It appears the track first opened as a horse racing track in 1923. That only lasted about a year. On December 14, 1924, it re-opened as a board racing track called the "Speedway." It was very well known, but much of the written information on it refers to it as the Los Angeles Speedway. The track was moved from Beverly Hills. 

By Resolution #589 in September, 1924, the city accepted land for public street purposes from Gilbert H. Beesmyer, The Speedway Corp. Later that year, Resolution #600 was adopted on December 15, to commend "Capt. Cain and officers of CCPD for the efficient manner at which crowds at auto races held December 14 were handled." The record also reflected that more than 50,000 visitors were in attendance that opening day, without a single mishap. News coverage recanted that Bonnie Hill took top honors by averaging 126.9 miles per hour in these "Indy" type races. Barney Oldfield also raced at our Speedway.

racetr Culver City Although the Speedway lasted longer than the horse racing track, just a few years later, the portion of the property bounded by Braddock, between Le Bourget and Motor Avenue, was considered for the first park in Culver City. The Trustees passed Resolution #1343 on August 8, 1927, which approved and ratified the action of the City Parks Board and Art Commission in selecting the name Victory Park. Many attributed the name to victory in World War I. However, Alene Houck Johnson, Mayor Reve Houck's daughter, told me that her mother suggested the name "because it was a victory to get a park." (Media Park is in Los Angeles). Victory Park was later renamed for Dr. Paul Carlson, a medical missionary. 

The second Culver City track was located at the western edge of the city, on Washington Blvd. Now Costco, you may remember it as the headquarters for the 1984 Olympics, or McDonnell Douglas. 

Originally the track was built for greyhound races. Many speculate that west end annexation in the mid 1920s intended to include the revenue from its pari-mutuel betting. But according to city records, it was not until March 8, 1932 that the Culver City Kennel Club was granted a permit and license (ordinance #368). The location was listed as 13455 Washington Blvd. and it was for "canine racing, coursing with canine sales and exhibits." 

State anti-gambling legislation closed it, but the Citizen newspaper headlines on February 8, 1935, read, "Dog Racing Bill Pondered." It offered the reopening of the Culver City Dog Race Track as a possibility because a bill introduced by Assemblyman Malone would legalize dog racing in California. It also reported that the track had been closed for two years. The March 22 edition of the same paper reported that the Assembly took action to permit it again. That location was also the home of midget auto races in the 1940s. Fred Machado built his own car, normally driven by Ken Stansbury. One day Stansbury failed to show, so Indianapolis driver Dempsey Wilson took the wheel. Local businessman George Newnam had his midget debut there in 1950. Mr. Newnam, in a 1990 interview, related that the track was later used for jalopies and was a motocross speedway. He also told me it was originally a quarter mile banked asphalt track, doubled later to make it a figure 8. This was verified by my favorite Engineering Dept. source, Sam Cerra, who showed me a 1953 aerial of the hourglass track. City records show the last car entry as Auction City. Many would remember Dick Lane advertising jalopies as "Old Leatherbritches" on TV-Channel 5.