Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Saugus Speedway Racing Program.

Saugus Speedway Racing Program.

Saturday, May 1, 1982. (Note: File name says April 17, but this is the program book for May 1.)

Yellow spot color cover, else black, 28 pages.

Cover: Oren Prosser.

Driver profile: none.

Feature: Hornaday Wins Second Straight Modified Main at Saugus.

Photos, in order of appearance: Prosser, Jimmy Insolo, Ron Hornaday Jr., Bruce Erickson, Harry Brady, Ronald Main, Tim Mitchell, Dan Daugherty; Page from the Past: Homer Cushman, Marvin "Kookie" Heinis, Ben Thomas, Phil Governale, Jim Erickson; Lyn Pherigo (trophy), Cindy Davar (trophy girl), Larry Warholic, M.K. Kanke, Dennis Dyer, Bill McKnight, Ken Bosse, Fred Wolgamott, Bryan Hayden.

Previous week's attendance: 6,112 (paid)

Hornaday Wins Second Straight Modified Main at Saugus

Super Track Scene (Previous Week's Results) by Lyn Pherigo

Canyon Country's Ron Hornaday Jr. won his second straight Modified main event Saturday night at Saugus Speedway, driving to victory in the H&S Racing Thunderbird. The top-three finish of one week ago was duplicated when former champions Oren Prosser, Simi, and Dan Press, Newhall, again finished second and third. Press earlier set fast qualifying time of 16:53, and Bruce Erickson, Canoga Park, won the preliminary 4-lap trophy dash. Fifteen of the 20 starters finished the event with 8 cars running on the lead lap.

Bill Sedgwick, current point leader, captured the 30-lap Sportsman main leading every lap from his front-row starting position. Jim Kent, Saugus, winner of last week's event finished second and Joe Ruggles Jr., Valencia, was third. Ken Sapper, La Crescenta, set fast time of 18:16, and Mission Hills' Steve Colbert was victorious in the dash.

Chatsworth's Ronald Main led fifteen other lead-lap drivers to the checkered as he took the honors in the stocker oval main. Greg Scates, Newhall, was second, and John Cran, Reseda, was third in the 25-lap event. Cran also set fast time of 19:82, and Don Hoefelman, Sylmar, was victorious in the dash.

Ken Bosse, current stocker champion, won the 15-lap figure eight main from his 15th starting position. Former champion Bill McKnight was second, Bryan Hayden third and David Hard fourth. Sixteen of 19 cars finished the event with twelve still battling on the lead lap. Greg Scates won the preliminary dash event.

Charlie Saied, regular Saugus competitor, slammed into the back chue wall, rolled several times and came to rest upside-down in a spectacular crash during the Modified fast heat race. Saied, who was driving Jimmy Insolo's car, was hospitalized with shoulder injuries and later released. He is resting at home with a broken shoulder blade.

Results from May 1, 1982

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. We do know he held a rodeo on the property on April 11, 1926. That December, Baker and partner Bob 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.

Download individual pages here. Program book courtesy of Terry Johnson 2018.
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