Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Bonelli Stadium Racing Program Book

Bonelli Stadium program book, undated (~1946).

A Ware and Crosley Presentation / Sanction No. 6 / California Roadster Association.


President - John Walker

Vice President - Chuck Leighton

Secretary - Walter Bowen

Starter - Babe Ouse

Chief Steward - Harry LeBohn

Track Supervisor - Bob McKee

Pit Manager - Artie Swanson

Track Physician - Dr. Sidney Senter

Ambulance Service - Harry Snyder

Concessions - Olympic Concessions Co.

Notable advertisements:

Babe Ouse started the California Roadster Association in 1945.

Newhall Refining Co. produces, refines and markets its own brands of gasoline: Newhall Ethyl Gasoline and Newhall Regular Gasoline.

Meet Bud Van Maanen

Handsome Bud Van Maanen began his roadster racing soon after graduating from school in 1939. His first "gem" was an A-V (model A Ford chassis and a Ford V-8 engine). As a machinist he was constantly improving his engine and chassis design.

Number 64 is the product of Phil Weiand's experience and ingenuity. Three weeks ago Phil Weiand finished the design on his forthcoming high compression head, and with this modern innovation of Weiand equipment Bud expects to chalk up a new track record. An inquisition into Phil's "bent eight" will disclose a 1940 stroked Mercury block, Hi Weiand dual manifold, and a 1927 "T" body. It's strictly a sweet little Z iron.

After serving in England, Scotland and France during the war, Bud returned to the comparative quiet of the Roaring Roadsters. This is what he means when he says "comparative quiet." Five weeks ago Bud Gregory and Van Maanen flashed by the starters flag at full throttle; in the corner everything was all right until Van Maanen, on the inside, skidded. Van bumped Gregory a good thump, bounced off, skidded again, and Van was headed across the infield (the long way across, too; none of this short and easy stuff for Van). Bud says that all he can remember now is the flash of white pants as the pit crews scurried to safety, the rush of the cameramen to get out of his way, and in the next second the opposite turn was dead ahead. In spite of his long trip through the pits, Bud finished his heat race and took second place, to boot.

Presenting Gordon Reid

Gordy is a roadster fan deluxe, as may be illustrated by the fact that he owns not one, not two, but three of the fast wheeling wagons. His pride and joy is No. 36, which he races here on the track, but besides "Old Reliable" he has an A-V and an A-V pickup. Must be that he doesn't trust California drivers and figures it best to have a spare or two around in case something should happen!

Before the war, "El Gordy" was an active member in the Southern California Motorcycle Club and participated in the field meets at Crater Camp and Ensenada. Then Uncle Samuel beckoned and found a place for Our Hero in the 1st Air Force. After discharge, Gordy returned to the acting business and lately has been in pictures for M.G.M. and 20th Century Fox. In his spare time, this handsome married man builds and sells custom roadsters.

Among Gordy's list of achievements, you will find that he won the first Main run here at Bonelli. He is also a speedster on an ice rink, as he held the Chicago Junior Championship a few years back.

About Baker Ranch Rodeo / Bonelli Stadium / Saugus Speedway

About Saugus Speedway.

The future Saugus Speedway was built originally as a rodeo arena in 1927 by Roy Baker, brother of shoe magnate C.H. Baker.

Roy Baker purchased the 40-acre property east of Bouquet Junction in 1923 for the purpose of breeding and selling show and pleasure horses. To that end he imported saddle brood mares from Kentucky and studded them with a pedigreed, chestnut-colored saddlebred stallion named Peavine McDonald (b. 1910), which sired five pedigreed mares and four pedigreed colts between 1920 and 1936. Baker advertised that he had 2,500 acres of grazing land and also offered training and boarding services for outside horses.

Probably to attract horse buyers to his ranch in faraway Saugus, Baker staged rodeos. Some references suggest he built a 12,000-seat arena in 1924, but this is dubious. (Promoter Bob Anderson organized a local rodeo in 1924, but its exact location is unclear, and it wouldn't have had grandtands.) Anderson did hold the annual rodeo on Baker's property in April 1926. That December, Baker and Anderson started construction on a new stadium, complete with partially covered grandstand seating and a quarter-mile oval track. When it opened May 1, 1927, it seated 18,000 fans, and thousands more had to be turned away for lack of room.

Over the next decade, ownership of the arena would change hands three more times.

As with a majority of the American populace, Baker was hit hard financially by the Great Depression of 1929 and was forced to sell the stadium to cowboy actor Hoot Gibson in 1930. Gibson continued to hold rodeos at the stadium and drew a Hollywood crowd including famous actors such as William S. Hart, Harry Carey, Tom Mix, and John Wayne. He also used the stadium as a movie set or leased it to other companies for film making.

But Gibson felt the effects of the Depression, as well. In September 1933 he appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom and pleaded poverty, saying he had no assets with which to repay a $2,500 loan. He testified that he owned a one-third interest in Hoot Gibson Inc., which owned the Saugus rodeo, and that it was in arrears.

In 1934, Gibson sold the stadium to Paul Hill, owner of the Western Livestock Stockyards, who continued to call it the Hoot Gibson Rodeo. As with his predecessors, however, the stadium brought Hill financial hardship when it was hit by the Great Flood of March 2, 1938. Heavy rains that year caused a river of water to flow down Soledad Canyon and filled the ranch home and arena with mud and debris. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the "old buildings ... collapsed during the March floods" and the arena was built anew.

Nonetheless, Hill lost the ranch sometime after the April 1938 rodeo. According to Reynolds, the property was repossessed by the bank. In 1939, ownership passed to William Bonelli, and it was renamed Bonelli Stadium.

Bonelli, a professor of economics at Occidental College, continued the annual rodeo tradition for a number of years but introduced auto racing in 1939 on a more frequent schedule; ultimately auto racing became the primary draw and Bonelli renamed the arena Saugus Speedway. Occasional rodeos and circuses continued until at least the late 1960s, auto racing until 1995. The facility was sometimes used for concerts before the grandstands were removed in 2012 (the originals had been replaced in 1955). The venue continues to host an outdoor swap meet.

LW2875: pdf from original program book purchased 2017 by Leon Worden.

• Saugus Speedway
• Fireball 500



1st Postwar Midget Race 9/9/1945


Program 10/7/1945


Midgets 1945 x2


Photo Annual 1945/1946


Pit Pass 11/11/1945


Pit Pass 11/25/1945


Lineup ~1946




Pit Pass 4/21/1946


Program 5/26/1946


Program 11-3-1946


Program 12/29/1946


Walt Faulkner 1940s-50s


Program 7-24-1948


Program 1-29-1956


Program 12-30-1956


Program July 1962


Program 9/8/1962

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