When the engine in my ’36 coupe gave out, Chet Herbert put his Jimmy in my coupe and I ran it on nitro. I think the first guy to run nitro was Vic Edelbrock Sr. He ran it in his Midget with the V8-60 and beat all the Offys that were running straight alcohol.” (Ed ran El Mirage in 1951 with the nitro/GMC combination in his ’36, setting a record in the B Coupe Class he recalled approximately 137 mph.)
“That’s a ’55 Merc and a 392...
“That’s a ’55 Merc and a 392 Chrysler I built in my second Richfield gas station and shop on Pico Boulevard in L.A. It had six 97 carburetors and an Edelbrock manifold. Maurice “Spider” Razon of The Dead End Kids Top Fuel dragster out of New York would collect all the 392 Hemi stuff and come to California in the winter with a truck load of Chryslers to sell to all of us.” Ed felt that period was the start of everyone switching to the big 392ci Chryslers.
Hot rodders didn’t assemble engines—you know, put them back together as the manufacturer intended—your friendly car dealer did that. Hot rodders built engines. That bunch of upstarts not only didn’t follow the instructions, they had the audacity to improve Detroit’s designs by miles … miles per hour that is!
Flat-out miles per hour was not just confined to land speed racing, but at the newly introduced quarter-mile track in Santa Ana called a dragstrip. As drag racing progressed, sheer brutal horsepower powered the sport.
That’s when the heavy hitters wanted a Black or Pink engine—and we’re not talkin’ color here! Black was the late Keith Black of the Greer-Black-Prudhomme dragster fame, and Pink is Ed Pink.
Ed’s engine of choice, the Chrysler V-8, the 426ci Hemi was so humongous in size and cubic inches that it became known as the Elephant Motor. You guessed it, Ed’s engines were known as Pink Elephants.
Too many calories you say? How ’bout a couple of Pink’s hot dogs? Ed’s late uncle, Paul, founded the world famous Pink’s Hot Dogs in 1939, with a three-wheel pushcart on the corner of Melrose and La Brea in Los Angeles, which, along with others, is still at the same location … minus the cart.
Ed’s chopped ’36 Ford coupe...
Ed’s chopped ’36 Ford coupe at El Mirage. Can you tell which one is the wrench and which guy was doing the driving? (Actually Ed did both.) The design next to Herbert Cams outlined Herbert’s revolutionary roller tappet cam system and Pink’s Paint was Ed’s dad’s paint and floor covering store. “Chet, in his wheelchair, instructing me and helping me. We’d work late at night in my garage on my ’36. He would stay at my house and I’d have to drag him away from the car to get him to go to bed in my house. Chet and I were very good friends in those days.”
Ed became known in his early thirties as “The Old Master”. His so-called overnight success took years of hard work, while studying under and being employed by some of the finest high-performance engine pioneers of our time to rise to the top of such an explosive motorsport as drag racing, then onto the sophistication of Indy Car racing so spectacularly. “Back in those days I was like a big sponge,” Ed says. “I was very fortunate to be able to have listened to and learned from them.”
Ed Pink was born in 1931 in Los Angeles. In 1933 his parents moved briefly to Omaha where his mother was from, but returned to California in 1940. Ed’s dad was in the paint business, both household and automotive. Ed went to Dorsey High School in L.A., which was destiny because the school was just down the street from Vic Edelbrock Sr.’s shop on Jefferson Boulevard. (Vic Jr. went to Dorsey High as well.)
Ed didn’t have a car in school, “but my friends did,” Ed smiles. “I walked to school, but I was mechanically interested at that point, taking the shop classes that were offered. That’s when I started reading Hot Rod magazine, right when Robert Petersen came out with it.”
Ed’s first racing experience was going to El Mirage as a spectator. “That’s when I got my ’36 Ford coupe. It was a stock, street-driven car that I converted to all Edelbrock speed equipment.”
Besides Edelbrock, Ed had an off-the-beaten-path speed shop he frequented called F.E. Zimmer Co. (established 1938). The catalog read “Plenty of Ford parts, no shortage here.” Zimmer was on 16420 Ventura Boulevard in Encino, California, back when Ventura was a two-lane road. “You had to go through an orange grove on a dirt road to get to Zimmer’s,” Ed recalls.
Ed and Jack Landram shared...
Ed and Jack Landram shared a shop together, which accounted for Pinkland lettered on Ed’s hood. “I had a Richfield gas station and a little shop right across from Manchester High School in Inglewood. That’s why the Richfield flying Eagle is in the nose. It had a Ford Flathead V-8 that was all Edelbrock equipped. I ran it at El Mirage and Bonneville I believe in 1955 or 1956.”
When Ed became a dry lakes racer he joined the Russetta Timing Association and became a member of the Coupes Club. The Coupes was aptly named since racers with closed cars weren’t allowed to participate in the Southern California Timing Association (SCTA) until 1950. That combination would change Ed’s life, as Bob Pierson and Bobby Meeks were members of the Coupes. (Meeks was the fearless guy who severely chopped Pierson’s ’34 Ford three-window coupe to give it that look that so many copied.)
It wouldn’t be long until Ed became fast friends with the racers in the Coupes who would influence his career path in the evolving high-performance industry: “My three buddies, Fran Hernandez, Bobby Meeks, and Don Towle in the Coupes all worked for Vic Edelbrock Sr.” (All three of Ed’s friends have since died.)