World War II Years - The Fairgrounds Joins the War Effort
With the County Fair and the Del Mar Turf Club horse races providing a one-two entertainment punch, attendance rose steadily at the Fairgrounds through the late 1930s. Bing Crosby's involvement in the Turf Club brought to the Fairgrounds Hollywood's elite of the day - Pat O'Brien, Oliver Hardy, Jimmy Durante, Barbara Stanwyck and Bette Davis, to name a few.
The 1941 fair, still an autumn event, closed with a visit from 300 bicyclists. But just two months later, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and America went to war. Fairs and racing at Del Mar were suspended "for the duration."
Activity at the Fairgrounds was not suspended, however. The grounds became a training facility and temporary quarters for military personnel. Paratroopers bedded down in horse stalls, and a U.S. Marine Corps detachment from Camp Pendleton trained on nearby beaches.
After the paratroopers and Marines left, 500,000 square feet of space was made available for the manufacture of parts for the B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber. The assembly lines were in full operation by December, 1943 with a workforce that was nine percent women. In 1944 the assembly line was phased out.