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Cannon McIntosh (08) battles Kyle Larson during the 2019 Turkey Night Grand Prix. (Richard Bales Photo)

Turkey Night Grand Prix Roars Back Into Ventura

VENTURA, Calif. – Following a year‘s absence, the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget ARP Turkey Night Grand Prix returns for its 80th edition on Nov. 27.

Star power is in abundance at this year‘s Turkey Night Grand Prix with recently crowned NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson set to pilot the Kyle Larson Open Wheel No. 1K in the event as he attempts to defend his victory in the race from 2019.  Larson, from Elk Grove, Calif., has previously won the race in 2012, 2016 and 2019.  His three Turkey Night Midget wins are tied for second all-time, only behind Ron Shuman‘s eight.

Traditionally, the Turkey Night Grand Prix has been held on Thanksgiving night, but after several years of pondering the subject, and with the 2020 cancellation of the event due to COVID-19, promoters J.C. Agajanian Jr., Cary Agajanian and Ventura Raceway‘s Jim Naylor decided the time was right to make the move to a new Saturday night date on the beach.

“For the last 20 years, we‘ve discussed moving the event,” J.C. Agajanian Jr. acknowledged.  “Things change, families change, and we wanted to continue the tradition of it being held on Thursday night.  But, once the virus came through, we discussed it with Jim Naylor and decided, if we were going to move the event, this would be the year to do it.  All the signs pointed to doing it this year and I believe it will bring more local talent to the race and put more people in the grandstands.”

The Agajanian family is legendary in the racing world and, particularly with the promotion of USAC racing events throughout much of the past century.  The family, spearheaded by family patriarch J.C. Agajanian Sr., has annually promoted the event since 1955, a tradition which continued with his sons J.C. Agajanian Jr. and Cary Agajanian following their father‘s death in May of 1984.

Naylor, meanwhile, has been the sole promoter of Ventura Raceway ever since he personally financed the construction of the fairground facility in 1978.  No group of individuals has more of a fondness for the Turkey Night Grand Prix, or as much of a stake in the game, as these three individuals, and it didn‘t go without extensive conversation on whether to stand pat or take action by making Saturday the new Turkey Night race day.

“Cary, Jim and I are traditionalists,” J.C. Agajanian Jr. acknowledges.  “We come from racing families, we‘ve been in racing all our lives and we do things the way they‘re supposed to be done, in our opinion.  Fans have traditions at Turkey Night, eating turkey from their trailers and motorhomes in the parking lot of the racetrack, and it‘s a lot of fun.  But there‘s always been the thought that maybe it might be a good idea to move it to the weekend.”

A feather in the cap at the end of a long season still conjures up the emotions and the excitement for USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget racing‘s finest, and come Saturday night, Nov. 27, 98 laps, a $10,000 check, a kiss of the Aggie hat trophy and racing immortality is all that matters at Ventura Raceway.

Turkey Night weekend begins on Friday night, Nov. 26 with USAC West Coast/VRA 360 Sprint Car racing at Ventura along USAC Midget practice. Saturday night‘s finale will also include the 360 sprint cars in conjunction with the midgets.

For tickets, info and more information on the 80th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix, please visit www.venturaraceway.com and www.usacracing.com.

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