Hollywood Park Racetrack in Inglewood closed Sunday after 75 years in service. The once grand venue will be demolished and replaced with 3,000 homes and a shopping center. Here are a dozen things you probably didn’t know about the late great track:
- All the proceeds from one race day were donated to the Inglewood YMCA to construct a new building in 1945.
- The clubhouse pavilion is named after longtime patron Cary Grant.
- The entire ¼ mile original grandstand was destroyed in a 1949 fire.
- In 2006, Hollywood Park became the first racetrack in California to install artificial turf.
- Mervyn LeRoy, famous as the director of The Wizard of Oz, was also the director of Hollywood Park from 1941 until his death in 1986.
- 62 people were injured in a melee in 1976 after a robber stole $4700 from a betting window and it flew into the crowd.
- Architect Stiles O. Clements designed the original streamline modern Turf Club in 1938. Clements also designed the Wiltern, El Capitan, and Mayan Theaters.
- The black and white drama Wall Of Noise, starring Suzanne Pleshette, was filmed at the park in 1963. My favorite quotes from the New York Times review: “just another routine romance, cheaply conceived and contrived” and “hideously vulgar and cruel.”
- The American Totalisator Company installed 450 TIM 300 machines in 1979, making Hollywood Park the first in the Western United States to install electronic betting.
- From 1938-1975, a “goose girl” in “native Dutch dress” was appointed to keep the 500 geese on the infield lake from being stampeded by running horses.
- The track was once home to a Carnation ice cream parlor.
- Three equine graves will be disturbed for the project. Landaluce, Great Communicator, and Native Diver will be relocated to San Diego.
Photograph by Doc Searles