Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fast Digs Update II: The Los Angeles Agricultural Park + A Surprise

Yet another venue from Los Angeles's past which hosted bicycle races, was the Agricultural Park.

Regional History Center, University of Southern California (USC)

Los Angeles Public Library collections

from the collections of the Regional History Center, USC

The three photos above show riders lined up at the start of what is described as a twenty-five mile bike race, held on 3 October 1893. The location is the Los Angeles Agricultural Park, now known as Exposition Park. The team from Riverside (top photo) won first place, the Los Angeles Athletic Club team (2nd photo) came second. The bottom photo clearly shows that the track at the Agricultural Park was constructed for horse races, but it was also used for bike, dog, and even, camel races and, later, automobile races. Agricultural Park lasted between 1872 and 1910, at which time the grandstand and other structures, including a brothel, were demolished - three years later (1913) Exposition Park opened in its place.

I am not sure how frequently bicycle races were held at the horse track, but a story in the Los Angeles Herald of 4 September 1899 records the events of an annual Butchers association picnic, which was held at Agricultural Park. Among the events of the day was a one mile bicycle race, won by W. Boross. Second place went to W. Boerster, third to E. Moriarty, and fourth to J. Fernandez. At a distance of a single mile (one lap of the track?), I suggest that the participants may have been members of the butchers' association, rather than members of one or another local racing club.

This information will be added to Fast Digs. That original post can be accessed here.

Now, on to the surprise. I have recently been corresponding with a man who's father was among the racers competing at the 1937 Six-Day races held at the old Pan Pacific Auditorium (among other international races). I don't want to give away too much at this time but expect some good stuff in the next update to Fast Digs. To pique your interest I will say that this man's story involves an escape from Spain at a time when that country slid in to the chaotic turmoil of civil war. The more correspondence that is exchanged, the more fascinated with it all I become. There will be photographs, reproductions of race programs, and of course, story tying things together. Stay tuned, it really is good.

2 comments:

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  2. That "team from Riverside"... They must have been representatives of the Riverside Wheelmen, "http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/riverside/riverside-headlines-index/20130126-back-in-the-day-riverside-was-bicycling-stronghold.ece"

    I rode with them back in the very early 1970s, and they were very strong still.

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