The Triple Crown's Jewel: The Ascot TT
The Ascot TT was one of the most challenging and respected races in the heyday of motorcycle racing. Held at the legendary Ascot Park in Gardena, California, the Ascot TT was a 50-lap endurance race won only by some of the most revered names in the history of the sport.
Ascot Park opened in 1957 as the Los Angeles Speedway, and was built on the grounds of a former city dump. The property’s former landowner Max Ziegler got in touch with a local motorcycle club called the Hawthorne Gophers, and convinced them to start holding scrambles on the 37-acre property. The president of the Hawthorne Gophers, Roxy Rockwood, in turn convinced Ziegler to build a half-mile mile dirt track on the property. Once the track was built and they started hosting flat track races there, the track became known as Ascot Park.
Local-yet-soon-to-be-legendary race promoter J.C. Agajanian took notice of what was going on at Ascot Park, and then assumed all promotional duties. With the golden voice of Rockwood as his event announcer, Agajanian worked tirelessly to promote the weekly events held at Ascot Park, shooting it to stardom. Agajanian’s radio plugs for Ascot Park were endless, advertising Ascot Park as where the 110, the 405, and the 91 freeways collide.
A TT track was constructed alongside the dirt oval, and the dry-slick clay surface of the tracks made the races extremely fast, entertaining, and dangerous. Naturally, the best thing to do then was to start holding a 50-lap endurance race to challenge its competitors skills to the utmost. The Ascot TT track was an elongated oval with one right turn and an infamous jump, which drew a regular audience of thousands.
The AMA sanctioned the event, and as Ascot Park became one of the most famous tracks in the world, winning the Ascot TT became one of the most coveted titles in dirt racing history. In 1966, legendary racer Eddie Mulder was the first person to win the Triple Crown, topping it off with a flawless victory at Ascot Park to the bewilderment of the 7,500 person crowd.
As motorcycle racing became more competitive, and the crowds wanted something even more extreme, the 50-lap TT at Ascot Park became the 100-lap TT. Winning this title was for only the most seasoned and accomplished racers, and to win it was an awe-inspiring feat of skill.
“You can’t say you’re a motorcycle racer until you’ve ridden Ascot, and you can’t say you’re a champion motorcycle rider until you’ve conquered it,” legendary racer Kenny Roberts said about Ascot Park and the Ascot TT.