photos by: the author
A First-Person Account of the Man and the Legend
I was in the company of a legend. That was how I felt every time I spoke with Vic Edelbrock. As an employee of his at the time, he’d ask about my dad, my family, and would always try to give me a pearl of wisdom now and then. He was a genuinely nice guy, and a good man. It was made very apparent at the tribute service held for Vic Jr. at Edelbrock’s own “Vic’s Garage”.
The service was emceed by Dave McClelland, and included tributes from daughters Camee and Christi Edelbrock, and Carey Robb. Also on the program were Tom Madigan (racer), Patrick Furey (Mayor of the City of Torrance, where Edelbrock’s facility is located), and the USC Trojan marching band! We all shared stories about Vic, the hard work he put in, the fun times, and the people and charities impacted by his generosity. The audience was a who’s-who of the racing world, as they all came out to celebrate the life of a legend.
When I say Vic Edelbrock is a legend, I’m not exaggerating. I’m not trying to garner any kudos from family, nor am I trying to make myself out to be special because I knew him—many of you who are reading this also knew him, and I’m sure you’ll agree that Vic Edelbrock Jr. is a legend.
Let’s run the facts. The company started in 1938 by Vic Edelbrock Sr.—another legend. Already well-known in the world of midget racing and land speed records, Vic Sr. applied his genius and innovation to the world of hot rods, and kick-started the automotive aftermarket with a bang. The company grew until Vic Sr. passed away in 1962, and the reigns were handed to Vic Jr., who was already very involved in the company. At that point, the company had pretty much stuck with the Ford Flathead engine as its bread and butter.
However, that all changed in 1964, when Edelbrock came out with the C-4B intake—for the small-block Chevy V-8. At that point, Edelbrock was poised to be at the forefront of one of the most significant times in this country’s history—the muscle car era! Not too long afterward, the Edelbrock name was synonymous with not only horsepower, but extremely high-quality components made right here in the USA. It’s rather cliché to use this term at this point, but, the rest is truly automotive history. With the incredibly wide range of product Edelbrock makes today, from intakes to cylinder heads, to superchargers, to complete EFI systems, it all began with one of the most fundamental components an engine can have, the intake manifold.
If you’ve ever turned a wrench in the name of performance, then you know the name of Edelbrock. You’ve almost certainly touched an Edelbrock-made intake at some point in your life. Practically every famous race car runs an Edelbrock intake. An Edelbrock four barrel intake is to a performance enthusiast is what a learner’s permit is to a new teenage driver–it’s a rite of passage. Not to mention, their intakes had the coolest names: Performer, Performer RPM, Torker, Torker II, Victor, Victor Jr, Scorpion, and my absolute favorite—the Tarantula. The Edelbrock name is on EVERY NASCAR competition vehicle. An Edelbrock intake has traveled down EVERY drag strip (no, I can’t document that, but c’mon…YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE). But that’s the impact Edelbrock has had, not only on our lives, but in the world. Thanks to the innovation and savvy of its owner and captain; Vic Edelbrock Jr.
Vic was a husband, father, uncle, grandfather, godfather, role model, and friend. He was a philanthropist, motivator, and a proud USC Trojan! He worked hard and played hard, he gave back more that his share, and paid it forward whenever he could. He ran a major corporation, but you might also run into him at the local cruise night. He was a hands-on kind of person, and was a father figure throughout the company…and the whole aftermarket industry. He brought value to the term “Made in the USA.”
There was no one like Vic Jr., nor will there ever be again. If you never had the pleasure, it’s your loss. He was bigger than life and never expected more in return than what he gave. There’s a missing piece in the world that will never be properly filled. Vic Edelbrock Jr., the man, the legend, has left the building. But in his wake, he leaves a wonderful legacy, in that he will continue to live on through his many achievements. But don’t mourn for him. No- he wouldn’t want anyone to be sad.
Instead, go out to your car and start it up. Listen to the horsepower—made possible by a legend. Rest well, Vic…we will see you again. Until then, I’m going to celebrate your legacy by putting your components to use, bringing a devilish grin to my face as I listen to the RPM climb, pinned to the back of the driver’s seat.
Living in Richmond, Texas, PJ Rentie has been in the automotive industry for more than 30 years. This former Assistant Editor at Vette Magazine also spent time with companies like NOS, Edelbrock, Hillbank Motorsports, Classic Industries, and was an automotive instructor for Cypress College for ten years. In his spare time, PJ hopes to one day bring his Fox Body Mustang out of the back yard and back onto the street!