(L-R)Dave McClelland - Moderator, Wally Parks, Alex Xydias, VicEdelbrock Jr., Ed Pink, Ed
When legends speak, people listen. And when the legends are from theperformance and racing industry and they share tales from their storiedpasts, people laugh, cry and, more importantly, remember the early days.Such was the scene at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona,Calif., where Wally Parks, Vic Edelbrock Jr., Alex Xydias, EdIskenderian and Ed Pink held court for 2-plus hours, keeping the pastalive and an audience of about 150 thoroughly amused during a paneldiscussion aptly titled "Living Legends."
The event was an offshoot of the Museum's current exhibit, "Edelbrock: APerformance Legacy," which runs through Feb. 14. It's also an ongoingpart of the Museum's "living history" agenda, where people can come andsee and hear their icons in action.
Alex Xydias signs an autograph.
"It's great to be here with my heroes," said emcee Dave McClelland tothe crowd. McClelland, who always asks the right questions at the righttime to evoke the best, and often funniest responses, was right ontarget once again.
He set the stage when he said, "we've come to celebrate a performancelegacy here today. Ask yourself, 'what if there was no Edelbrock?' It'simpossible to think about because Edelbrock has had such an influence onthe performance industry."
McClelland got tossed for a loss momentarily as a quick quip about USCfootball (Vic's alma mater) winning the championship spurred a debatebetween the panelists, especially Vic and Alex.
Ed Iskenderian contemplates a question during the Edelbrock: APerformance Legacy panel dis
"Enough about football, already!" McClelland said. The crowd and panellaughed and the real discussion about the history of the performanceindustry began in earnest.
The program covered quite a bit of subjects, ranging from various formsof racing (dry lakes, drag), engine building, first uses of nitro,famous cars such as the legendary SO-CAL Streamliner and Belly TankLakester, the scene at Gilmore Stadium and the early days ofmanufacturing and distributing performance parts. But two namesdominated the discussion: Vic Edelbrock Sr. and Bobby Meeks, his famedengine builder.
Every panelist told several stories about both. For Vic Jr., the storiesrepresented his childhood as he watched his dad and Meeks develop aspecial brand of performance parts and help forge a new industry.
Legendary engine builder Ed Pink signs an autograph.
"I feel very fortunate to have been born into the family I was," Vic Jr.said. He talked about the excitement from Meeks and his dad on usingnitro for the first time and beating the Offys at Gilmore. He also spokeabout learning about dynos and testing products as a teen, as well asdoing things right, the Edelbrock way. "My father would say 'hurry upand screw up the first so you won't screw up the second one.'"
Vic Sr. may have been tough on young Vic, but nothing like Bobby Meekswas, well, to everyone. Ed "Isky" Iskenderian, the 'Camfather,' saidMeeks was "pretty blunt and not too diplomatic on mistakes. He would sayyou were a dummy, you're doing it wrong, but he was sort of polite aboutit.
Panelist Ed Pink, a racer as well as an accomplished engine builder, wasschooled under Meeks, who he said was tough, but fair. "When I made amistake," Pink said, "at least Bobby Meeks didn't hit me like theteachers did back in school."
Vic Edelbrock Jr. makes a point druing the panel discussion.
Alex Xydias, founder of the famous SO-CAL Speed Shop, called Meeks, "Theengine guy - a true legend."
Of course, Vic Jr. knew Meeks before he got famous...and a little gruff."Bobby Meeks was 15 and hangin' around my father's place,' Vic Jr. said."He had no place to go. My father asked him, "wanna get your handsdirty?' Bobby became a brother to my dad. He would be here today, butsome of his parts are wearing out and they don't sell replacements forthose parts yet."
Vic Jr. also told of the time when Vic Sr. got Meeks a car "Bobby needsa car - it was time. My dad brought in a pile of junk and said, 'put ittogether.' He did it and that was his car."