Turkey Night Grand Prix
|United States Auto Club National Midget Series|
The Turkey Night Grand Prix is an annual race of midget cars. It is the second oldest race in the United States behind the Indianapolis 500. It has been held on Thanksgiving night most years since 1934, where it was founded by Earl Gilmore at his Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles. It stayed at this location until 1950. Since that time it has been held at various southern California race tracks. The event was eventually promoted by J. C. Agajanian and then later, by members of his family. Traditionally a dirt track event, it has been held more frequently on asphalt since the turn of the 21st century, although it returned to dirt in 2012. The feature race was held over 98 laps in the modern era, the same number that Agajanian used for his racecars.
The race is the traditional end of the midget and sprint car racing season in North America, although many top stars typically take a few weeks off before returning to racing in Australia or New Zealand, with the Southern Hemisphere summer leading to an "international season" that starts Boxing Day.
There was no race in 1942–44 (World War II) nor 2020 (California state pandemic restrictions). Beginning with the 2021 event, the Turkey Night Grand Prix has not been held on Thanksgiving night, instead being split across the following two days.
The event is considered a major event in the midget cars series. It frequently attracts drivers from other disciplines, especially former drivers that have moved to the highest levels of auto racing; the major auto racing circuits in the United States end their seasons prior to Thanksgiving, so major drivers do not have any schedule conflicts with their main circuits. Drivers that have competed in the event include Parnelli Jones, A. J. Foyt, Johnnie Parsons, Bill Vukovich, Danny Oakes, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, J. J. Yeley, Jason Leffler, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Larson.
After Kaylee Bryson qualified fastest for the 2021 event, she became the first woman to start on the pole position in the 80th event. Her Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian teammate Taylor Reimer qualified second, and they became the first women to start first and second in USAC National Midget history. Bryson led the first 17 laps to become the first woman to lead the event.
Several locations have hosted the race.
- Gilmore Stadium (1934–1950) (now Television City Studios)
- Gardena Stadium (1955–1959)
- Ascot Park (1960–1974, 1976–1990)
- Speedway 605 (1975)
- Saugus Speedway (1991)
- Bakersfield Speedway (1992–1995, 1998)
- Perris Auto Speedway (1996, 2012–2015)
- Ventura Raceway (1997, 2016–present)
- Irwindale Speedway (1999–2011)
List of winners
|1960||A. J. Foyt|
|1961||A. J. Foyt|
|2008||Bobby Santos III|
- Vaughn, Mark (November 28, 2014). "Christopher Bell wins 74th Turkey Night Grand Prix midget racing event". Autoweek.
- "WM: Turkey Night race will be 98 laps". Motorsport.com. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
- Vaughn, Mark (December 24, 2012). "We'll Always Have Perris". Autoweek. 62 (26): 66–67.
- "Logan Seavey Completes Sweep Of All Three USAC Finales". www.floracing.com. FloRacing. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
- 98 laps "Turkey Night" in honor of J.C. Agajanian; Irwindale Speedway; Retrieved December 12, 2007
- Estrada, Chris. "USAC: Dave Darland wins Turkey Night Grand Prix". NBC Sports. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
- Vaughn, Mark (November 28, 2014). "Christopher Bell wins 74th Turkey Night Grand Prix midget racing event". Autoweek. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
- "Thorson, Toyota take Turkey Night Grand Prix". Autoweek. November 27, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
- "Kyle Larson, Toyota win Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway". Autoweek. November 25, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
- Long, Dustin. "Christopher Bell beats Kyle Larson to win Turkey Night Grand Prix". NBC Sports. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- "USAC Cancels Oval Nationals & Turkey Night GP". Speed Sport. September 15, 2020. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
- Irwindale Turkey Night Grand Prix Preview; November 3, 1999; motorsport.com; Retrieved February 5, 2007; includes winners list before 1999
- Turkey Night Midget Grand Prix; scrafan.com; Retrieved February 7, 2007