Book review by Richard Parks, photographic consultant Roger Rohrdanz
A massive and well-crafted coffee table book on the first family of speed equipment is now available. Edelbrock, made in USA, is written by Tom Madigan and available through www.edelbrock.com or at Autobooks/Aerobooks in Burbank, California. The book measures 10 ½ by 11 ½ inches in size and is an inch thick. It has a superb dust cover and is in a hardbound format with a fantastic blue/red/black color scheme that sets it apart on your coffee table. Edelbrock, made in USA has 324 pages, with 255 black and white photos, 141 color photos, 148 sepia tinted photos, and 99 posters, programs, ads, drawings and other interesting eye-catching displays. The photos show a high degree of professionalism and blend from black and white into sepia brown and into color. The visual displays break up the text so that there is a great deal of variety. Edelbrock, made in USA has the feel of a hot rodders version of the National Geographic magazine style. The binding and paper are of the highest quality and the book jacket should be kept with the book at all times because it enhances the book. Book jackets, or dust covers, are essential for book collectors so keep this one attached to your copy. The paper is waxed and has a heavy bond to it, giving it a shiny and expensive look. Edelbrock, made in USA is dedicated to Katie Higgins Edelbrock and Otis Victor Edelbrock Sr, by their son and daughter-in-law and grandchildren. The Preface is by Vic Edelbrock Jr and the Foreword is by Benny Parsons. The printer is Tehabi Books. There is an introduction followed by extensive photo credits listing all the contributors. There are 8 chapters, an epilogue, an index, acknowledgements and a source guide. The index covers two pages and makes this book more than a coffee table book. It is a bonafide history of the Edelbrock family and their achievements. Madigan has done an excellent job of interviewing his sources and working with them to provide this outstanding book. There is a full page dedicated to helping the serious hot rodder and car racer to find additional information.
The Edelbrock family came from humble beginnings but their talent, drive and will to succeed is special among the hot rodding community. They would be the first to tell you that they appreciate the support and encouragement of those in auto racing and speed equipment innovators. Yet their success is due to their unique heritage and cohesiveness as a family. The Introduction traces the family’s journey to Hollywood from Coffey County, Kansas. Nelson and Margaret Edelbrock had three children; Ross, Carl and Otis Victor Edelbrock. Otis was born in Kansas in 1913, just a few months and a few miles away from his long time friend and Road Runner club member, Wally Parks. He dropped his first name and used Vic among his friends, later adding Sr when his son was born in 1936. Vic Sr grew up on the farm and was skilled in many rural talents, especially as a hunter of wild game. Like so many other families, the Edelbrocks’ came west to California in the 1930’s to look for a better life. Chapter One is titled Palm Trees and Movie Stars and tells the story of Vic’s new life in California and the garage and service station that he built in Hollywood. He met and married Katherine ‘Katie’ Collins and the photos show a very happy couple, especially after Vic Jr came into their family on August 23, 1936. Vic Sr was only 23, but already he was forging ahead with plans that would make the name of Edelbrock synonymous with quality speed equipment. The late 1930’s would find Vic Sr joining the Road Runners club and racing his car on the dry lakes of Southern California.
Chapter Two is titled Dark Clouds and Pain and discusses World War II and the impact that it had on the car guys in Southern California. Vic Sr had many friends of Japanese/American ancestry who were interned in camps until after the war was over. Many of his friends and fellow Road Runners Car club members ended up fighting overseas. One of the saddest occasions happened when Katie’s brother, Wes Collins, committed suicide over the stresses caused by his time in the war. Chapter Three is titled A Promise to Keep and discusses the discharge of the hot rodders after the war and their return to racing. This was the Golden Age of automobile racing and the beginnings of new sports in drag racing, Bonneville time trials, Midget racing and other forms of car racing. Chapter Four is called The Sweet Smell of Innocence and tells the story, among many, of the time the V8-60 took on the might Offy’s and won, with the use of the unknown nitromethane fuel. Another story concerns the Wa-Wa I, a fast Flathead powered boat driven by Henry Lauterbach. Chapter Five is named Passing the Torch and discusses the rising influence of young Vic Jr in the family business. With a degree from USC, Vic Jr takes over and moves the Edelbrock Corporation from a small regional to a national business. Vic Jr married Nancy Crook and they have three daughters, Camee, Christi and Carey. On November 11, 1962, Vic Sr passed away from the ravages of cancer at the young age of 49. The Edelbrock Corporation would now be firmly in the capable hands of Vic Jr.
Chapter Six is called Winds of Change and explains the rapid growth of the speed equipment industry and the Edelbrock Corporation. Vic Jr and the company rapidly expand into sponsorships in stock car, open wheel and dragracing. New products come pouring out of the minds of Edelbrock engineers and marketing and advertising play a bigger role in their expansion plans. Testing of cars and products assumes an important part of the Edelbrock mystique. Vic Sr and Jr prove to have an uncanny knack for finding and promoting the best talent and the loyalty of their employees adds to their quality in parts and service. Edelbrock firmly supports the work of the SEMA organization to protect the rights of the speed Equipment manufacturers. Chapter Seven is entitled The Fun Team and explains how the Edelbrock Corporation wants to make a job at the company more than just a paycheck. The attitudes and hopes of the founder infuse a new spirit into all the members of the company. A great part of this fun attitude was the sporting events that they attended and participated in. Boat racing with Jerry Herbst was a great part of this fun attitude. The family were expert horse riders as well. For the Edelbrock’s, any activity that called for challenges was readily supported by the Fun Team. Chapter Eight is called In Sight of the Goal and describes the company today and the expectations for the future. The product line is expanding and the philosophy founded by Vic Sr of quality is being maintained by the third generation of Edelbrock’s. They believe in America and it’s ideals and they practice the slogan ‘made in America’ and mean it. The Epilogue pays tribute to men and women who have molded the Edelbrock family. This is a book that touches the lives of nearly every hot rodder who has ever lived and one you must include in your library.
Gone Racin’ is at RNPARKS2@JUNO.COM.
Visit www.edelbrock.com for information on Edelbrock, made in US