Turkey Night Grand Prix

Annual race of midget cars
Turkey Night Grand Prix
United States Auto Club National Midget Series
VenueVentura Raceway (as of 2016)
Corporate sponsorAutomotive Racing Products
First race1934
Distance19.6 miles
Circuit information
Length.320 km (0.199 mi)

The Automotive Racing Products Turkey Night Grand Prix is an annual race of midget cars. It is the third oldest race in the United States behind the Indianapolis 500 and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.[1] 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. Since 1955, the race has been promoted by J. C. Agajanian and later his descendants, currently by son Cary. Traditionally a dirt track event, it has sometimes been on asphalt during 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.[2]

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).

The expansion of the USAC Midget schedule around Thanksgiving week with the Hangtown 100 in Placerville the week before, and the Merced County Fairgrounds meeting on the Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week led promoters in 2021 to move the Turkey Night Grand Prix to a two-day format away from Thanksgiving, with practice and support division races on Friday, and the heat races and feature on Saturday, creating a "California Midget Week" with three feature races in eight day, similar to the summer "Indiana Sprint Week" for USAC's non-winged sprint cars.

The Turkey Night is regarded as one of three major midget races during the year, with the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, OK, and the Bryan Clauson Classic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.


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.[3]

After Kaylee Bryson qualified fastest for the 2021 event, she became the first woman to start on the pole position in the 80th event.[4] 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.[4] Bryson led the first 17 laps to become the first woman to lead the event.


Several locations have hosted the race.

List of winners

Season Driver
1934 Bob Swanson
1935 Ted Sizemore
1936 Ronney Householder
1937 Ronney Householder
1938 Bob Swanson
1939 Mel Hansen
1940 Roy Russing
1941 Roy Russing
1945 Danny Oakes
1946 Perry Grimm
1947 Johnny McDowell
1948 Bill Vukovich
1949 Perry Grimm
1950 Bill Zaring
1955 Johnnie Parsons
1956 Edgar Elder
1957 George Amick
1958 Joe Garson
1959 Tony Bettenhausen
1960 A. J. Foyt
1961 A. J. Foyt
1962 Bill Cantrell
1963 Mel Kenyon
1964 Parnelli Jones
1965 Dick Atkins
1966 Parnelli Jones
1967 Gary Bettenhausen
1968 Sam Sessions
1969 George Benson
1970 Gary Bettenhausen
1971 Bill Engelhart
1972 Tony Simon
1973 Bill Engelhart
1974 Danny McKnight
1975 Mel Kenyon
1976 Bubby Jones
1977 Gary Patterson
1978 Rick Goudy
1979 Ron Shuman
1980 Ron Shuman
1981 Ron Shuman
1982 Ron Shuman
1983 Kevin Olson
1984 Ron Shuman
1985 Brent Kaeding
1986 Warren Mockler
1987 Ron Shuman
1988 Chuck Gurney
1989 Chuck Gurney
1990 Stan Fox
1991 Stan Fox
1992 Ron Shuman
1993 Ron Shuman
1994 Jordan Hermansader
1995 Billy Boat
1996 Billy Boat
1997 Billy Boat
1998 Jay Drake
1999 Jason Leffler
2000 Tony Stewart
2001 Dave Steele
2002 Michael Lewis
2003 Dave Steele
2004 Bobby East
2005 Jason Leffler
2006 Billy Wease
2007 Dave Darland[6]
2008 Bobby Santos III
2009 Bryan Clauson
2010 Bryan Clauson
2011 Caleb Armstrong
2012 Kyle Larson
2013 Dave Darland[6]
2014 Christopher Bell[7]
2015 Tanner Thorson[8]
2016 Kyle Larson[9]
2017 Christopher Bell
2018 Christopher Bell[10]
2019 Kyle Larson
2021 Logan Seavey[4]
2022 Justin Grant [11]
2023 Kyle Larson [12]


  1. ^ Vaughn, Mark (November 28, 2014). "Christopher Bell wins 74th Turkey Night Grand Prix midget racing event". Autoweek.
  2. ^ "WM: Turkey Night race will be 98 laps". Motorsport.com. Retrieved December 14, 2019.
  3. ^ Vaughn, Mark (December 24, 2012). "We'll Always Have Perris". Autoweek. 62 (26): 66–67.
  4. ^ a b c "Logan Seavey Completes Sweep Of All Three USAC Finales". www.floracing.com. FloRacing. Retrieved November 28, 2021.
  5. ^ 98 laps "Turkey Night" in honor of J.C. Agajanian; Irwindale Speedway; Retrieved December 12, 2007
  6. ^ a b Estrada, Chris. "USAC: Dave Darland wins Turkey Night Grand Prix". NBC Sports. Retrieved December 2, 2013.
  7. ^ Vaughn, Mark (November 28, 2014). "Christopher Bell wins 74th Turkey Night Grand Prix midget racing event". Autoweek. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  8. ^ "Thorson, Toyota take Turkey Night Grand Prix". Autoweek. November 27, 2015. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  9. ^ "Kyle Larson, Toyota win Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway". Autoweek. November 25, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  10. ^ Long, Dustin. "Christopher Bell beats Kyle Larson to win Turkey Night Grand Prix". NBC Sports. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  11. ^ "Turkey Night Grand Prix USAC Midget Results". www.usacracing.com. United States Auto Club. Retrieved November 27, 2022.
  12. ^ "Four Score! Larson Gets Turkey Night Win #4 at Ventura". USAC Racing. United States Auto Club. Retrieved 2023-11-27.
  • 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

External links

  • Ventura Raceway, current location of Turkey Night Grand Prix
  • v
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History and
United States
  • Novant Health (Charlotte)
  • Chicago
  • America's (Detroit)
  • Oktoberfest (Kitchener-Waterloo)
  • Hollywood Christmas (Los Angeles)
  • Macy's (New York City)
  • 6abc-Dunkin' Donuts (Philadelphia)
  • Celebrate the Season (Pittsburgh)
  • America's Hometown (Plymouth)
Turkey trots