Fast Digs Update
So, a few months ago you may remember a post here about some of the lesser-known and disappeared bike racing venues of the Los Angeles region. It is one of those topics combining history and cycling, something I can't get enough of. Rather than add this update material into the post and have it become lost to those of you who already read that original post, I am also giving it a separate update here. If you want to read, or review, the entire post including the update, click here.
Jackie Cooper - official starter of a 10-mile women's bike race in Los Angeles, 1933
One of the venues I was most interested in was/is Montebello Stadium simply because I had never heard of it. Montebello Stadium, besides its more obvious sporting connection, was also frequently used by various organizations for social, cultural, and political functions. As I have dug deeper I have found that Italian-American groups and labor organizations, in particular, favored the facility. Eventually I made the connection - monte bello, beautiful hills, in Italian - though I find that Italian immigrants played no significant role in the city's founding (the name was in fact suggested by William Mulholland).
Anyway, and whatever the case, Italian-Americans gathered at the stadium regularly for picnics and athletic contests. During these, men would compete against one another at games such as "tiro del formaggio", where twenty-five pound rounds of aged cheese were tossed for distance. In July 1949, for instance, the twelve Los Angeles area Sons of Italy Lodges held a picnic with an all-day program of sporting events. There is no indication whether cycling was a part of the festivities. Similarly, in the biography of Nelson J. Baldo, it is noted that "Mr. Baldo was one of the sponsors of the Los Angeles Drive for Mutilated Children of Italy, which was held at the Montebello Stadium." No date is given, but I suggest it may have followed World War II.
Beside those events, a wide range of others took place at Montebello Stadium as well. In 1947 the New York Giants (baseball) held a young players' camp and try-outs. In September of 1949 the Los Angeles Lapidary Society hosted a two-day lapidary (gem) picnic and show. In June 1955 the Food Industry held its Sixth Annual Fiesta, BBQ & Dance, sponsored by the Illuminators, in the Stadium. In September of 1955 the Greater Los Angeles CIO Council held a picnic. In September 1956 fights broke out around Montebello Stadium where members of the Boilermakers' Union were holding their annual picnic. So, while I am still yet to find a good photo of the stadium it appears to have been quite significant, and capable of hosting large gatherings and a wide range of activities.
An additional venue I have uncovered was the Douglas Plant in El Segundo. The Monday July 11, 1955 edition of the Long Beach Press Telegram notes that "Crebs Club of Long Beach dominated the annual open bike races staged by the Italian Cycling Club of Los Angeles Sunday at Douglas Aircraft plant, El Segundo. Riders from all parts of Southern California competed." Just for the heck of it, the results of that day:
Class A (8 mile sprint) Jack Disney (Crebs Cycling Club - CCC) 41 points, Bob Tetsloff (CCC) 29 pts, Bill Disney (CCC) 28 pts, Bob Olson (CCC) 15 pts, Ray Gandy (CCC) 7 pts.
Class B (6 mile sprint) Jerry Freck (North Hollywood Wheelmen - NHW) 26 pts, Bill Lambert (US Navy [?] - USN) 19 pts, Lee Marshall (CCC) 16 pts, Duane Davenport (NHW) 15 pts, Steve Shearer (ICC) 10 pts.
Class C (4 mile sprint) Bill Keith (CCC) 17 pts, Bill Jennings (San Diego Cycling Club - SDCC) 15 pts, Jim Montgomery (NHW) 14 pts, George Gainer (NHW) 10 pts, Don Tenney (SDCC) 9 pts.