He may be an old timer, but boy was his impact tremendous in the automotive world. Posted on YouTube, talent Dennis Pittsenbarger sat down with Ed Iskenderian, a legend and pioneer of the automotive racing scene.
Time may have passed, but Ed’s footprint on the scene will never go away. Known as the “cam father”, Ed was instrumental to the drag racing world in its early days.
“There was a lot of talent all over the United States,” he said. “We were able to run open, stripped down cars almost every day of the year. That’s where drag racing came in. It spread to the whole United States and helped make this thing grow.”
Speaking about his childhood, Ed explained his interest with cars at a young age. “When we were kids, we saw stripped down Model T’s,” he said. “We thought they were only in their neighborhood, but we were wrong.”
Realizing there was a huge amount of potential outside his California roots, Ed wanted to expand his vision to the rest of the country.
There was a lot of talent back East just waiting for a new hobby.
– Ed Iskenderian
Ed learned the fundamentals of mechanics by working with Model T’s and later adapted the overhead conversion by Frontenac as well as the Riley head, known to racers back in the day as the “multi-flathead.”
Although his career was interrupted by the events taking place during World War II, it didn’t take away from his interest with speed. After the war ended, he wasted no time in getting back to his hot rod build, getting it ready for California’s dry lake bed trials.
Taking a conventional cylindrical grinder, he used his tool making and mechanical knowledge to convert it into a universal cam grinding machine. It was noted as the first machine to produce camshafts that saw a noticeable improvement in performance over the conventional racing Ford camshafts. Ed’s cams were the first to produce 1 horsepower per cubic inch on gasoline in postwar OHV V8 Dodge Hemi’s and 1.3 horsepower per cubic inch on gasoline in postwar OHV 283 Chevy V8s.
Barring his several accomplishments, in 1963, Ed in collaboration with a few other industry pioneers, created the “Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association”, now known as the “Specialty Equipment Market Association” or “SEMA”.
Isky continues to share his vision and vast knowledge with racing enthusiasts today. He is truly an icon in the automotive world that has not only stood the test of time, but also changed the field in so many ways. Hats off to Isky and his huge influence in the hot rod, racing, and engine building scene. Also, be sure to check out all of Isky Racing Cams products on their website here.