Webmaster's note: Joshua C. "J.C." Agajanian was born in San Pedro on June 16, 1913. His father was Saugus hog farmer/garbage king Elisha "Aggie" Agajanian.
J.C. ran the ranch in Haskell Canyon for a time.
J.C. "Aggie" Agajanian, 70, a race-car owner who spent much of his life in pursuit of Indianapolis 500 trophies, died Saturday, May 5, 1984, at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.
Mr. Agajanian was regarded as the undisputed dean of Indianapolis 500 car owners. His cars have been raced for 36 consecutive years at the Brickyard, as the Indianapolis Speedway is known, and an Agajanian Special is being prepared for this year's race.
His cars won twice. The first victory came in 1952 with driver Troy Ruttman; the second was in 1963 with Parnelli Jones at the wheel.
His drivers in the 500 also have included Johnny Mantz, Johnny Parsons, Lloyd Ruby, Bill Vukovich Jr., Sam Sessions, Mike Mosley, Rick Mears and the father-son team of Tony and Gary Bettenhausen.
Kevin Cogan is scheduled to drive for Agajanian Enterprises in this year's Indianapolis 500.
Mr. Agajanian — who often sported shiny cowboy boots and a white ten- gallon hat — had wide-ranging interests, including the Ascot Racetrack in Gardena, Calif. He founded the U.S. Auto Club in 1956, was part-owner of the Ontario Motor Speedway in California and was involved with auto racing at all levels.
Duane Carter described his former boss as "one of the finest promoters in racing and one of the finest gentlemen I knew." Carter won the 1950 Midwest Sprint Car championship for Mr. Agajanian and drove an Agajanian car to 11th place in the 1955 Indianapolis 500.
"It's a shame we lost him," Carter said. "He was a real gambler — in business and in race cars."
Among those who regularly covered events at the Speedway, he was remembered as a great gin-rummy player. For years he was chairman of the 500 Gin Rummy Tournament, which opened annually with the command, "Gentlemen, shuffle your cards," a parody on the starting command for the 500-mile auto race.
Mario Andretti, the 1969 Indy winner, said Mr. Agajanian was special, citing his interest in developing young, talented drivers.
Mears, the 1979 Indy winner, recalled that the first car he had driven was a sprint buggy. "Aggie," he said, was the man who put him in the driver's seat.
Mr. Agajanian sought out young drivers on the theory that experience breeds caution. "A young driver can always squeeze out a little more speed," he once said, adding, "No old, used fellows for me."
He was not as happy with racing in his later years. "It's become so commercialized," he said during an interview at the Speedway in 1971, ''there's so many sponsors and so much money involved and there are so many entries, one little mistake and you're out.
"Mechanics used to help each other and visit each other. I used to lend a set of tires or tools to other cars, and they'd lend things to me.
"Now, if my mechanics go visiting another garage, they think we're spying or something," he said. "It's a big business now."
He remained involved in other tracks as well in his later years. He promoted races, including Indy-type events, at Phoenix, Ariz., and Springfield, Ill., and such runs as the Pike's Peak Hill Climb.
He is survived by his wife, Hazel Fay Agajanian; a daughter, Joan, and three sons, Cary, J.C. Jr. and Christopher.