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Joshua "J.C./Aggie" Agajanian (June 16, 1913 – May 5, 1984) was an influential figure in American motorsports history. He was a promoter and race car owner.

Contents

Early life

Agajanian was born in San Pedro, California, just six months after his father had immirated to the United States, with his entire family, including some cousins, out of war-torn Armenia. He grew up a hard-working young man in the family’s refuse collection and hog ranching businesses, which Aggie would later oversee.

At 18, Agajanian had saved enough money to buy a race car. When he told his father that he was going to become a race car driver, the elder Agajanian’s reaction was not what young Aggie had hoped. Looking at the car in the garage, his father said to J.C., "So you are going to be a race driver, that’s fine. Just a few things I want you to do first. Go kiss your mother goodbye, pack your bags since you won’t be living here anymore and while you’re at it, change your name."

Promoting and Racing Life

The racing game was brutal in the 1930s. Drivers were dying almost every other week on the dirt ovals of Southern California and Agajanian’s father understandably didn’t want his son to become another statistic. A compromise was settled upon. J.C. could keep the car, but only in the capacity of an owner. J.C. agreed and at 18 became perhaps one of the youngest car owners in automobile racing.

While Agajanian never achieved his childhood dream of becoming a race driver, he did almost everything else, from promoting races to building cars and discovering drivers.

While promoting a race under the blazing desert sun in Arizona, Agajanian purchased a Stetson cowboy hat to protect his head. The hat became Aggie's trademark and he was rarely seen without it.

His trademarks were a cowboy hat and high-heeled boots made especially for him in Spain.

The Armenian heir to a fortune built on pig farming and garbage collection. J. C. was partial to the number "98" and used the number his Indianapolis, Sprint and Midget cars, a tradition which has continued for generations in the family. He was instrumental in the development of the air jack for faster tire changes at Indy and in the 1930s was president of the Western Racing Association. His race organizer expertise spanned the country and he became the first race organizer to present 250 United States Automobile Club events, ranging from Midget races like the traditional Turkey Night Grand Prix at his beloved Ascot Park in Gardena, California (now held at Irwindale Speedway), to numerous Championship Dirt Car races at state fairgrounds tracks.

From 1948 through 1971, his cars won three pole positions for the Indianapolis 500, set four track records and won the race twice. Troy Ruttman (1952) and Parnelli Jones (1963) both won the 500 in Agajanian machines.

"I didn’t even know my dad was bald until I was a teenager," joked his son, J.C. Agajanian Jr. "He even wore the hat sitting down for breakfast in the morning. My mother was always getting on him about that."

Notable drivers for Agajanian included: Bill Vukovich II, Walt Faulkner, Troy Ruttman and Parnelli Jones.

Awards

Family

  • Joan Agajanian Quinn (J.C.'s daughter) [4] [5]

References

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