Parnelli To Be Turkey Night Grand Marshal

Parnelli Jones wheels a midget at California's Ascot Park.
Parnelli Jones wheels a midget at California's Ascot Park.
Parnelli Jones wheels a midget at California’s Ascot Park.

PERRIS, Calif. — Parnelli Jones will be the grand marshal for the 74th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix on Nov. 27 at Perris Auto Speedway.

The occasion will mark the 50th anniversary of Jones first win in the famous midget race at legendary Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif.

“It is an honor to have Parnelli Jones as the grand marshal of the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” said Perris Auto Speedway promoter Don Kazarian. “He is one of the greatest drivers in the history of American auto racing. He was a proven winner in jalopies, sprint cars, midgets, road racing, NASCAR and Indy cars. He could drive the wheels off anything he sat in.”

Jones, who lives in Rolling Hills Estates, copped his first win in the prestigious midget race just one year after winning the Indianapolis 500 while driving for legendary race car owner and promoter J.C. Agajanian.

Ironically, Agajanian’s three sons, Cary, J.C. Jr. and Chris, oversee the Turkey Night Grand Prix to this day.

Kazarian said Jones will not be on the only member of the family who will be attending the Thanksgiving night race.

“Parnelli and his entire family will be coming,” Kazarian said.  “His wife, sons and grandchildren will all be there.”

The Turkey Night Grand Prix is the longest running and most prestigious midget race in the world. Started in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium in Hollywood, which is now the site of CBS Studios, according to Kazarian, Turkey Night is the “second longest running race in the nation.” It only ranks behind the Indianapolis 500 when it comes to longevity.