Harold A. “Baggy” Bagdasarian was for more than five decades a nationally-recognized master of custom car and hot rod showmanship and promotion.
Harold was born in Fresno, California. He came to Sacramento in 1940, joined the Army, and married Willi, who was his partner, in life for 70 year. Harold went into the Army Air Corps in 1943, where he was a Ball Gunner. In 1947 he went into the Cab business with a company called “Capitol Cab Co”. A year later, In 1948, Harold and his brother Elmer built the first 5 minute Car Wash in the country.
In 1950 Harold founded the Sacramento Autorama, as president of the Capitol Auto Club. His first show, one to settle an argument among two Thunderbolts’ members about which one had the most beautiful roadster, was held Armistice Day, 1950. It featured 22 cars, and was held at The Sacramento Capitol Chevrolet Co. “I made a $1.74,” he recalled in an earlier interview. The show grew, graduating to Sacramento’s Memorial Auditorium, then on to Merchandise Mart at the old State Fair Grounds, finally in 1970 to the Cal Expo.
Harold managed and and worked out every detail for their shows. He was a believer in showmanship for the whole family and his productions always included a mix of entertainment for the kids to TV personalities for the adults. He was among the first showmen to screen continuous race car films. His ability to consistently showcase the finest available cars in a string of exhibitions was a tribute to his relationship with the motoring community, builders, stylists, painters, car owners themselves – and representatives of an expanding performance industry serving car enthusiasts everywhere.
In 1958 & 1959 Harold promoted ¼ mile motorcycle races at Hugh Stadium in Sacramento. In 1960 he started Flasco, a lighting service company. In 1962 and 1963 he also produced indoor Midget races at Cal Expo. In 1966 and 1967 he produced short track Motorcycled races at Cal Expo.
In 1971 Harold started Capco Industries, which developed and manufactured a battery operated air freshener. Baggy was also a daring and persistent impresario who by 1976 managed and had ownership interest in 9 Northern California shows that drew nearly 150,000 motoring enthusiasts, including the Grand National Roadster Show, World of Wheels in San Mateo, San Jose Autorama, Sacramento International Bike & Van Show, Street Machines at Cal Expo, The Santa Rosa Show, Redding Car Show, and the Reno Show.
Harold's services was held Friday October 24th at 11:00 AM at East Lawn, 4300 Folsom Blvd, Sacramento, CA. 95819.
- Harold Bagdasarian's Obituary
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