Turkey Night Grand Prix Races Into Thanksgiving

Gilmore Stadium was the early home of Midget racing in general and the home of the famed Turkey Day Grand Prix. Midget racing was held at the track from 1934 through 1950 when the track closed. The location is now the home of CBS Television City. (Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images)

What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than with big speed and tiny cars? Midget racing’s annual Turkey Night Grand Prix exemplifies both. Midget car racing was born in Los Angeles with roots going all the way back to the 1930s. When Gilmore Stadium was built in 1934, it hosted Midget racing right from the beginning. The inaugural Turkey Night Grand Prix had it’s debut there that same year and ran at the Gilmore Stadium until the track closed in 1950. After that, the Turkey Night GP hopscotched across various Southern California tracks until landing at current location, Perris Auto Speedway. Yes, the venerable race is still being run and still takes place on Thanksgiving evening, hosting some of the top drivers in the sport.

NASCAR Sprint Cup star, Kyle Larson will be returning to the scene of his 2012 Turkey night win. Can he add another win to the list? CREDIT: Doug Allen
NASCAR Sprint Cup star, Kyle Larson will be returning to the scene of his 2012 Turkey night win. Can he add another win to the list?
CREDIT: Doug Allen

In this age of safety regulations and purpose built race cars, the mighty Midgets retain their simplicity from back in the day. The powerful, open-wheel cars with a huge power-to-weight advantage honor the stripped down essence of their ancestors. Watching the little cars slinging it sideways is a sight to see. Since most other race series have completed their schedule by Thanksgiving, the Grand Prix often hosts celebrated drivers from other series, especially ones that got their start racing Midgets. Call it a Thanksgiving homecoming of the racing variety

This year’s 74th annual TNGP has a few homecomings in store. Current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year, Kyle Larson, will be making another run for the Aggie trophy. He is familiar sight at the race having won it in 2012. Racing legend Parnelli Jones is the the Grand Marshal of the race. This will mark the 50th anniversary of his first Turkey Night Grand Prix win back in 1964 at Ascot Park in Gardena, California. It sounds like a great way to give thanks. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Parnelli Jones at Ascot Park in Gardena, California. He won the Turkey Night Grand Prix at that track in 1964 and 1966. Jones will be at Perris Auto Speedway as Grand Marshal of the Turkey Night race, it will be the 50th anniversary of his 1964 win.
Parnelli Jones at Ascot Park in Gardena, California. He won the Turkey Night Grand Prix at that track in 1964 and 1966. Jones will be at Perris Auto Speedway as Grand Marshal of the Turkey Night race, it will be the 50th anniversary of his 1964 win.
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