Hundreds of fans and dozens of hot rods gather to celebrate Ed Iskenderian’s 100th birthday

From left to right: "Gentleman" Joe Schubeck, Ed Iskenderian, Don Prudhomme, and Roland Leong. Brandan Gillogly

It’s not every day that you get to hang out with your heroes and rub shoulders with racing legends, but it’s not every day that Ed “Isky” Iskenderian turns 100 years old, either. In truth, Isky has had more than one 100th birthday bash since his actual birthday on July 10, but we won’t argue the semantics. We were simply glad to see so many of Ed’s friends show up to wish him well at an event at the Petersen Automotive Museum this past weekend.

For those that aren’t familiar with his story, Ed Iskenderian is not only a pioneer because of the race-winning products he created; he was also arguably the inventor of the hot rod t-shirt and a wizard at marketing, creating catchy advertisements for his “Polydyne” and “Five-Cycle” cams, the latter likely the more famous of the two. He has made a long career of building innovative products and getting them into the hands of racers who then spread the gospel of Isky Racing Cams. You can find the brand’s stickers on all sorts of racing cars and trucks, but he’s best known for drag racing, a reputation that was reflected by the star-studded panel that showed up to share some of their favorite stories of “The Camfather.”

Isky shakes hands with fellow engine guru Larry Ofria of Valley Head Service. Brandan Gillogly

Petersen Automotive Museum founding chairman Bruce Meyer introduced the panel, and author Matt Stone served as emcee. The all-star lineup included drag racer/author Don Prieto, engine builder Ed Pink, driver “Gentleman Joe” Schubeck, four-time NHRA Funny Car champion driver Don Prudhomme, and famed drag racer and crew chief Roland Leong. Each took a moment to share a story or two about Isky, who was an important figure in many of their careers. After the panel concluded, Isky and his compatriots spent time signing books and memorabilia and speaking with attendees.

Ed Pink, left, greets Don “The Snake” Prudhomme. Pink’s engines powered some of Snake’s most formidable drag cars. Brandan Gillogly

Other hot-rodders who showed up to honor Isky included NHRA driver Jack Beckman, SCTA 300-mph Club members Seth and Tanis Hammond, and Valley Head Service founder Larry Ofria. Of course, plenty of Isky’s fans showed up, many of them bringing hot rods that owed their power to Isky cams.

Margaritis Katsanidis campaigns this LS-swapped BMW in Formula Drift. It’s powered by an iron-block 6.0L with a 4.10-inch stroke. Brandan Gillogly

If you want to be kept abreast of events like this at the Petersen Automotive Museum, keep tabs on its events page.

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    This reminds me of a friend (since passed) that told me he once spent time hanging out at the Iskenderian’s shop.
    I cannot recall just how he got to know them and was tolerated to just hang out there, but do recall bits of a couple of his anecdotes of time spent there.

    Apparently they kept pretty good records of nearly everything they did. The problem was filing space. There simply wasn’t enough in the office. So a few older cars on the premises became impromptu filing cabinets.

    It seems they Iskenderian’s were always on the lookout for machine equipment that came on the market when some shop or another would close, the type of equipment that could be used to build the same types of parts that they did.

    Whenever possible, they would buy the machines, and park them. They didn’t need them, but were just reducing the possibility of someone cloning they cams.

    Slightly different times then. Or were they?

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