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Vic Edelbrock Jr, 1936-2017

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Vic Edelbrock Jr. in 2013. Photo by Kurt Ernst.

Vic Edelbrock Jr., for more than 50 years the head of the company that bears his name, died last week after complications from a cold. He was 80.

The scion of the founder of one of the original American high-performance aftermarket companies, Edelbrock took over the eponymous company as its president in 1962 at age 26, when his father, Vic Sr., died of cancer at just 49 years old. Instead of just riding along with the successful business, Vic Jr. turned a 10-employee, $450,000-per-year racing enterprise into a high-performance juggernaut with hundreds of employees and hundreds of millions in revenue.

Edelbrock grew up in his father’s Southern California speed shop, starting work during the summers before he was even a teenager. After attending USC on a football scholarship, he joined the family business. Though relatively inexperienced when his father died, only child Vic Jr. made sure to keep a core group of employees around who knew the ins and outs of the business. He also smartly followed the advice of a friend who suggested the company start making intake manifolds for the small-block Chevy, a product that has since become Edelbrock’s best-selling line.

In the decades since Edelbrock took over, the company vastly expanded their product line to include nearly everything you could need to make your American V-8 engine make more power, from those signature intakes to camshafts to carburetors to ignition systems, exhausts, valvetrains, and on and on. They also remain committed to making products in the United States as much as possible, going so far as to open their own state-of-the-art foundry in 1988 in San Jacinto, California.

When a group of speed merchants got together to form SEMA, then known as the Speed Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, in the 1960s, Edelbrock was an integral part, signing on as a founding board member. His two terms as SEMA president in the Seventies were notable for his active participation in the role at a time when high-performance was practically a bad name in Washington and even Detroit. Edelbrock’s leadership during these tumultuous years is often credited as a force that helped protect the industry.

Edelbrock was a pilot, noted powerboat racer and a vintage automobile racer. Vic and his wife, Nancy, had three daughters: Camee, Christi and Carey.