12/19/2013 10:52AM

Hollywood Park's curator of memories

Shigeki Kikkawa
Edward “Kip” Hannan, supervisor of production operations for the television department, has been digging up and organizing media that chronicles Hollywood’s 75-year history.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Hollywood Park will run its final race Sunday. In the bowels of the track, Edward “Kip” Hannan will be racing, too. Against time.

Hannan, first on his own and later with a modicum of assistance, has been trying to catalog and organize 75 years of the track’s history, in film, videos, and audio calls, chronicling moments from Seabiscuit to Citation, Swaps to Affirmed, John Henry to Zenyatta. But as the clock ticked down to the final days of the meet, his treasure trove had no home, a sad reminder of the haphazard way in which preservation of racing’s history is often simply left to chance.

“This sport deserves more than getting lucky that some fan uploads a historical race onto YouTube,” Hannan said. “God bless those fans, but this should be done by the sport. The sport deserves more.”

Hannan, 49, is officially the supervisor of production operations for the track’s television department, a job that will soon end. Unofficially, he has become the curator of the track’s great races and moments.

Hannan has unearthed boxes of discarded film and reel-to-reel audio tape – previously locked in abandoned rooms and closets at the track – which contain some of the track’s greatest races. He has worked with an expert on film restoration to salvage footage that otherwise might have been lost. He’s found acetate records – the forerunner to audio tape – of significant Hollywood Park races, like Swaps winning the 1956 Gold Cup, and was able to meld the call with the silent film footage of the same race. His small office, down a hallway in the television department, is teeming with film, tapes, and newspaper clips.

“You walk in this room, you’re kind of overwhelmed,” he said.

And, as of this week, nothing has been definitively decided by track management on where the material will go.

Hannan has worked at Hollywood Park for 27 years. He was co-winner of an Eclipse Award for radio achievement in 2003. He’s the go-to guy when media outlets need video footage.

“The most requested race is the Swaps with J. O. Tobin and Seattle Slew,” Hannan said. “My favorite race is the Gold Cup in 2007 with Lava Man. I get chills watching that.”

An avid record collector – he has about 5,000 albums, more than 3,000 45s, and more than 15,000 CDs at his home – Hannan brought the same passion for music to trying to preserve Hollywood Park’s history.

“It’s in my blood,” he said.

Hannan took on the Hollywood Park project on his own, when it was apparent, after the track’s purchase by the Bay Meadows Land Company, that Hollywood Park’s days were numbered.

“I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it at first, but I’m glad I did,” he said. “Look where we are now.”

Indeed, though there are still boxes of material to be processed, Hannan already has made significant strides in cataloging and preserving precious footage. During a recent interview, he punched up several items on his editing machine that are priceless.

He has video of two races from the inaugural 1938 meeting, the Gold Cup which was won by Seabiscuit, as well as the opening-day Premiere Handicap. Using multiple sources, Hannan took what was originally just 18 seconds of Gold Cup footage, found other footage of Seabiscuit from that day, plus still photos, and turned it into a 3-minute piece.

He found film of Citation on a reel, uncovered in a closet and open to the elements, and with the help of Richard Perris, a film restoration expert, now has 15 minutes related to Citation’s 1951 Gold Cup, including the entire race, Citation’s career finale.

He’s put together complete footage of all three of Native Diver’s Gold Cup wins.

But it’s not just race footage that Hannan has compiled. Hannan unearthed film of Native Diver parading at Hollywood Park after his 1967 Gold Cup win, and it’s a gorgeous piece of film, in color.

When local television station KNBC in 2009 did a retrospective of the 60th anniversary of its newscast, the station showed a snippet of Hollywood Park’s grandstand as it burned in 1949.

“It was one of their first big news stories,” Hannan said.

He has 10 seconds of that clip, plus another 10 seconds KNBC aired of that year’s Goose Girl competition, with the incongruous scene of contestants parading in front of the burned out shell of the grandstand.

One of his greatest finds came about by both persistence and chance. Hannan owned a video compilation of three racing movies, including “The Story of Seabiscuit,” which included a brief added bonus of footage from Hollywood Park in 1945.

“I wondered if there was a longer, original version,” Hannan said.

Years later, after the death of Bob Benoit, the track’s former general manager and then owner of the track’s photography business, Hannan was presented with cans of film that Benoit had stored. He went through it, and serendipitously came across the original 20-minute source material used for “The Story of Seabiscuit” bonus footage.

It was restored by Perris, and the rich, colorful footage is both spectacular and historically significant. It includes shots of the original, indoor paddock, which was destroyed in the 1949 fire; jockeys, including John Longden, weighing in; a longer tour of the jockeys’ room; a visit to the silks room; and overhead shots of the course that show off its magnificent lakes and flowers.

Hannan has taken great care to properly catalog the material on his editing machine, with a slate card for each item that lists the total running time, the content, and all the sources used to cobble together the piece.

Some of the footage was used in an historical video that Hannan produced and the track distributed during the summer meet. But there’s so much more.

“It would take years to do it right,” Hannan said.

And, quite soon, it will need a home.

Bruce Chipps More than 1 year ago
There were countless people involved with the production of the 75th Anniversary DVD. I would like to thank Vic Stauffer, Bob Mizerski, Roger Roman (Director of Broadcasting) and most of all Joe Burnham for a ton of historical footage, Ted Jackubanis (Former Director of Broadcasting) for getting some of our old films transferred to tape so that future generations can see. A racetrack is not "one man" but a team. A big thanks to Roger in the warehouse for unearthing literally hundreds of hours of audio tape of great race calls while "cleaning out" the warehouse. There is a "TEAM" of at least 12-18 people involved in documenting the races each and every day, since 1938. I am one one of those team members, I guess one of the "little people" I just need to say that our "TEAM" is one of the best in Horse Racing and that they will be sorely missed at the closing of Hollywood Park.
Jonathan Nook More than 1 year ago
I agree. It was a wonderful TEAM to work with. From the many camera operators, technical people, and support staff, we really did create something very special. I too, will miss all my co-workers very much, as I think we all put our hearts and souls into the job for many many years. The racing was beautiful, but even more beautiful were all the fans and the family of co-workers you end up working with. A big thank you to everyone there that made it happen. I'll miss you all.
John McKay More than 1 year ago
wowhorse More than 1 year ago
Is there anything fans can do to help this project or keep the archives preserved? Would do all I could to help...
Pan_Zareta More than 1 year ago
Would love it if in honor of all the fans, myself included, who have been uploading these moments in racing history when no one else has, permission could be granted to put these on YouTube for all to enjoy. Why not free this media and give it to the people?
Tat McCabe More than 1 year ago
I was lucky enough to work with Kip Hannan for several years at Hollywood. We've kept in touch over the years and have had long visits regarding the Hollywood archives. Kip, you're the best! I look forward to many more years working in the business with you and yes, you deserve an Eclipse Award o fMerit as Jay Tweeted!
Hail No More than 1 year ago
“God bless those fans, but this should be done by the sport. The sport deserves more.”
Jeffrey Prescott More than 1 year ago
I collect old Herald Examiner and Times' racing editions up to 1970..... Will pay.....if you have any....please contact..... >jeffnewz93@yahoo.com
Karen L. Gogue More than 1 year ago
Thank you Jay for a wonderful article, and thank you for caring ...
Ray Unger More than 1 year ago
Where's the National Museum of horse Racing in this? Can't they help?
Hail No More than 1 year ago
They knew this day was coming long before "we" knew anything about this being the last year at Hollywood
Karen L. Gogue More than 1 year ago
It has been a long and sometimes difficult road for my friend Kip ... doors opened, doors closed .. but he threw himself into it with a passion and a commitment to preserve the historical memories for those of us who will never forget,. and for future generations to come. He is a master at what he does, keeping a keen eye on that history from the heart. For those of us feeling the pain at the loss of Hollywood Park I thank you Mr. Hannan, SALUTE! job well done, not quite over, but nonetheless, well done! I know of no one whose capable hands I would rather have than yours to do this, "Those who knew me never doubt me, Those who doubt me never knew me ..." My letter to Kip on the completion of the 75 years Hollywood Park DVD: There are no words ... What a masterpiece Kip ... A true masterpiece, a witness to racing greatness, with an impact charged with emotions - despite time constraints you have done an invaluable service to the racing industry with your insightful understanding of what Hollywood Park has meant to so many, and to us the racing fans - we will mourn the loss with deep sorrow that will last through the ages. You have wove the flavor and sparkle of Hollywood Park with the glory of racing's greatness to now, the stark harsh reality of the slow death of racing in California as we know it. The tears flow freely ... shed seeing all this history will be no more - gone forever, only left with this as a reminder to what was once ... memories of a lifetime, a bittersweet journey .... "Let it not be forgot that once there was a Camelot" The emotions going through my mind as I watched ... I broke down even more at the beautiful eloquent words of Jerry Moss and John Shirreffs ... memories of a lifetime throughout racing glorious history at beautiful Hollywood Park ... thank you Kip ... my heart is forever grateful to you for this historical video of Hollywood Park's 75 wonderful years ... and yes, IT WILL NOT be forgot that once there was a Camelot ......
Hail No More than 1 year ago
Great post, Karen!
Donna Rehder Powell More than 1 year ago