The CRA was born the California Roadster Association by Babe
Ouse, in Ouse's Los Angles garage in 1945. Ouse was a California dry lake record holder in a
Marmon, the fella's were tired of racing against the clock and wanted to race
each other, thus the CRA was born. Ouse, Bill Dehler and Emmett Malloy built
a race track at the end of 174th street just blocks from a dirt lot that
later became Ascot Park in Gardena, it was called Carrell Speedway, the first
race was run on Labor Day 1946 with 50 cars, Wally Pankratz was the winner.
Most of the 50 drivers were called Ash Can Derby drivers and had little
experience on the ovals.
The name J.C.Agajanian was the driving force behind the establishment of Carrell Speedway and the running of the CRA.
The first president as Johnny Walker, at the next election Babe Ouse took over
and then the third president was Tom Sloan.
By the third CRA race there were 95 cars listed as members and
85 of them were on hand to qualify. Drivers had to be at least 21 and had to have a doctors clean bill of health.
By 1949 there were over 300 cars running 8 or 9 races a week in the So. Cal
area. Walt James took over as president in 1950, Walt had been racing with the
roadsters and was known by everyone, Walt was riding in the back seat of the
car that Bud Winfield was killed in and while in the hospital he was elected
as president, seems no one wanted the job!
Sprint cars were introduced in 1953 but it was not until 1957 that they
changed the name from the California Roadster Association to the California
Racing Association. A new track, called the Los Angeles Speedway was just
completed by Bill McKay, Jack Brunner and Walt Mahoney. It would later become
Ascot Park and was built on an old dump site.
By the 60's things were in full swing and the names from the West coast like
Parnelli Jones were famous across the country. When Jones and Jim Hurtubise
dropped into the mid west with two CRA Hank Henry built sprinters powered by the
West coast Chevys, the Offy's were left in the dust and the world of todays
sprint car was born. CRA was the racing hot bed of the country, the road to the
Indy 500 was thru Ascot, 15 to 20 of the 33 Indy 500 stars were CRA drivers on
Walt ran the CRA for over 25 years, he proposed the roll bar back in 1951,
roll cages in 1968. In the fall of 1970, Walt James resigned and Ed Hudson (CRA's vice president) became acting president.
Ed was elected President by the general membership for the 1971 term. Don Peabody became president in 1972
and left to take over USAC in '77. Don ran the CRA like a business and handed
the club over to a new president, Joe Hunt. Joe had to leave office almost as
fast as he took it.
David Voden finished out the term and in 1978, Gary Sokola took over the club.
Sokola was the most respected name in the country, he was the driving force to
the national 410 limit, the tire rule, padded roll cages, safety was his main
concern and demanded that if the race car did not meet the requirements it went
back on the trailer. Sokola left the CRA to take a position with USAC. Frank
Lewis took over but when Ascot closed the CRA was without a local home track.
Lewis raised the purse to an all time high, scheduled races at every dirt track
in the west.
He took the CRA across the nation, and spent thousands of dollars trying to keep
the club alive. In 1993, after the CRA canceled an advertised race at the
Ventura Speedway, the majority of the CRA members reformed the CRA into the SCRA
and honored the date. The CRA was suspended during mid season in 1994 and has
become part of the Southern California Racing Association history, some say part
one of the Second California Racing Association.
-Thank you to SCRAnews and Sandra Bartosh for the information.