By Cam Benty
As has been reported, a legend in the automotive aftermarket passed yesterday. Quite by surprise, Vic Edelbrock Jr., died from complications from a cold. I will miss him greatly.
I first met Vic while working for Hot Rod Magazine in the early 1980’s. I grew up knowing Edelbrock as the name emblazoned on the many boxes of automotive parts I would purchase for my ’70 340 Duster. Three years out of college, in January of 1981, I found myself at the Edelbrock HQ getting a personal tour from Vic of the facility on Coral Circle in El Segundo, Ca. He had a strong grip and a bright smile, clearly proud of his efforts to make the Edelbrock name something his father, Vic Sr. would have been proud of. No doubt, Sr. had to be impressed with his sons work ethic.
When Edelbrock Corp. moved to the current offices on California St. in Torrance, it was clear business was good. I remember spending hours at the facility working closely with the engineers as they tested various products on the dynos that served as verification of their engineering efforts. Guys like Jim McFarland, Murray Jensen, Rod Sokolosky, Curt Hooker, Robert Jung, “Smitty” Smith and many more all became good friends and trusted authorities I used to write stories – knowing that even though they worked for Edelbrock, their perspectives where honest and facts verifiable.
But what clearly was a highpoint of any visit was looking over Vic’s personal car collection – most of his cars painted in Edelbrock Red including the pride of his early collection, a rare and very fast Lister. For me, my favorite was the Smokey Yunick Camaro that featured a host of Smokey tricks all designed to slip by most tech inspectors and give the car a huge advantage in competition.
What I loved about the collection of Trans Am cars was the fact that Vic raced them in Vintage Racing events across the country. From the perfectly restored Folmer Boss 302 Mustang to the brace of Shelby GT350’s, he used these cars for the purpose they were intended – racing. As the collection grew, Vic built a museum for his cars not far from the plant – a shrine to his performance personality.
Over the years I worked with Vic many times usually creating stories about his products or attending his annual car show staged not far from the HQ. At those shows, the line to get a quick “hello” with Vic and a personal signature was always massive, Vic more than happy to chat with his fans. That was a key component of Vic Edelbrock Jr. legacy – he never forgot the folks who got him to the dance – the engine builders, racers, magazine readers and everyday fans of performance who looked to Vic for guidance and trusted in his products.
Rest assured, Edelbrock Corp. will continue to build amazing performance products for many years to come. Their factory in Torrance is massive with over 60 CRC machines carefully carving up parts cast at their foundry in San Jacinto, Ca. But the legacy of the man, his contribution to the industry and the personal, hands-on time spent keeping in touch with the customers who made Edelbrock a cornerstone brand is what will be remembered.
We have lost a key figure in the automotive landscape – one that can never to be replaced. That is a sad day for certain.