“This was the first article...
“This was the first article even done on me when I was working for Lou Baney to show what parts it took to convert a stock Ford V-8 into a hot rod motor. That’s my Flathead that I had laid out on the ground. I hadn’t gone into the Army yet; I was 20 years old.”
Hernandez, who earlier worked with Fred Offenhauser, was shop foreman at Edelbrock and later had a distinguished career at Ford for over 30 years creating their racing program. Regarding the legendary engine builder Bobby Meeks, “Bobby, to my knowledge, only had one job in his life, other than the four years he spent in the Navy, and that was at Edelbrock.” Towle was a master machinist and crack engine builder, adding to the early success of Edelbrock. “The three of them befriended me and were my mentors,” Ed states. “Bobby Meeks taught me how to build race engines.”
Remember when gas stations were places to get a job, to learn how to work on cars, build hot rods, a race car or two after hours, and hang out? Oh yeah, and buy gas with the change in your pocket? Well, Ed did all of that. “The very first job I had was in 1947 when I worked for Lou Baney who had a Golden Eagle gas station and speed shop called Hot Rod Haven on 52nd and Normandy in West L.A. On Saturdays all the racer guys used to be there, like Isky.”
At that point Ed was working for his dad and Baney part time. “I learned how to lay floors and put linoleum down … asphalt tiles. I could’ve taken over the business from my father when he retired, but it just wasn’t exciting enough for me … I didn’t like it.”
Ed proudly displayed Edelbrock...
Ed proudly displayed Edelbrock on his car, not as a sponsor, but for his friendship for Vic Sr. Vic Jr. had this to say about his father and Ed’s relationship: “Ed was low on money and didn’t know if he would be able to run Nitro in his dragster. He goes to work the next day at his shop down the street and there was a barrel of nitro right on his driveway. That’s how much my father thought of Ed,” Vic Jr. laughs.
The Korean War was on, and Ed decided to join the Army and became an infantryman. “Afterward, I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do,” Ed says. “I went to work for Louie Senter at Ansen Engineering for a while as a mechanic. Then my friend Jack Landrum and I decided to open a little garage and Richfield gas station on Manchester Boulevard across from Manchester High School in 1953. We called it Pinkland (a combination of Pink and Landram). I was working there full time; Jack had another job, he was just there whenever he had time. Jack helped me run the ’34 at El Mirage but the partnership just wasn’t successful. It was something we tried together and it didn’t work. We remained friends until the day Jack died.”
That lasted a couple of years before Ed quit the partnership and went to work for another giant in the speed equipment industry. “I worked for Frank Barron, who was partners with Bob Tattersfield, of Barron-Tattersferld cylinder heads and intakes. Barron had a stock automobile repair shop. Barron taught me how to repair stock automobiles.”
Ed quit Barron, opening a second Richfield gas station with a repair garage in 1956 on Pico Boulevard with one employee working for him. “When Barron decided to retire he rented the building to me on Venice and Highland. I closed the gas station.
Ed built the business up but his heart wasn’t in it. “I hated the passenger car business because there was always someone down the street who would do a brake job cheaper. Ed built a small cliental with his racing engines; he liked the performance part of the business. He loaded up his pickup with the equipment in the shop and moved it to his double-car garage in West L.A. “That’s when I went to work for Eddie Meyer.”
Eddie Meyer Engineering Company in Hollywood was a phenomenal and magical place of employment when Ed worked there. Eddie’s brother Louis was the first three-time winner of the Indy 500. Meyer was not just a place to work; it was a place to gain knowledge.
“I told Eddie Meyer before I went to work for him that everything on my Flathead Ford V-8 was Edelbrock,” Ed laughs. “I didn’t have a lot of money in those days; I was making $85 a week. I worked at Meyer for a couple of years. Eddie also had a repair business. Most of his customers were movie people. I was his mechanic on regular cars. I learned a lot working there,” Ed says, fondly.