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Lunch With A Legend

Ed Iskenderian blows out the one candle on his cake, celebrating his 101st birthday.

Ed "Isky" Iskenderian turns 101

A small gathering of car-friends join family in celebrating Isky's 101st birthday.

By The Editors

Sun, Aug 7, 2022 08:30 PM PST

Staff report and images.

On the 101 st birthday of Ed "Isky" Iskenderian, a true icon of American Hot Rodding and motorsports, two LACar contributors joined Isky and his family’s small gathering at lunch at (of all places) the “Golden Corral” in Downey, California. The "Chris and Pitt’s" Bar-B-Que restaurant we were aiming for there was closed and the GCB&G was right next door … so buffet/cafeteria fare it was; celebrated with a cupcake and "1" candle for "101"!

Being in touch with Isky to take him out for a birthday lunch, MPG member Steve Ford invited friend Doug Stokes to join him for the gathering. "Steve had lined up with Ed to connect, and, because it was also my birthday the same day, I got to tag along over to the party," Stokes related. "Isky’s got 20 years on me, and he’s still sharp as a tack, telling stories and regaling us like the living legend he is."

Chuck Regan, Ed Iskenderian, Steve Ford, and Doug Stokes at the birthday lunch for Isky's 101st birthday.
Chuck Regan, Ed Iskenderian, Steve Ford, and Doug Stokes

"For his 100th birthday last year we had a large celebration at the Conejo Valley/Thousand Oaks 'Cars and Coffee' to present Isky with the 'Car Guy of the Century' title," said Ford. "And then he had another large spotlight gala for his milestone 100th at the Petersen... This lunch for his 101 st birthday had a bit smaller cast of characters involved, but we were 101 percent with him in the continued camaraderie of car culture." he added.

"This year we had a great time with not only the entire restaurant staff and other family diners in the room all singing 'Happy Birthday' - a few minutes afterwards, a lovely lady from across the room came over and serenaded us, surrounding Isky with her own almost operatic version of a birthday solo. It was a wonderful day." Stokes concluded with a smile.

For anyone unfamiliar with Ed Iskenderian and his motoring life, the nominating form for Ed’s inclusion into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America class of 2023 is attached below. It's written by well-known journalist Matt Stone - who also happens to be Ed's biographer: "ISKY - Ed Iskenderian and the History of Hot Rodding".

Ed Iskenderian receiving the Car Guy of the Century award in May 2021.
Iskenderian, here flanked by his daughter Amy, receives the “Car Guy of the Century” award from journalist Steve Ford (top) and award co-creator Roy Miller, May 2021.

Official 2022 Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Nomination

Edward Iskenderian was born July 10, 1921 in Central California to Armenian immigrant parents. Young “Isky” was always curious about anything related to mechanics and technology – his first job was repairing old vacuum tube radios.

Like most teens, he grew up around cars, particularly fascinated by the racy sounding, lightweight “gow job” hot rods he and his buddies saw around town. Coming home to LA after his WW2 Air Force service, he befriended the legendary Ed Winfield, and soon began grinding his own hot camshafts and valve gear.

He ran his own Model T rod at the dry lakes and became a major player in the early days of Bonneville and the NHRA. Isky sponsored and supplied his speedware to racing icons including Mickey Thompson, a young Floridian named Don Garlits, boat racers and the early days of NASCAR.

Iskenderian Racing Cams became a major force and voice in the performance industry, with Ed serving as SEMA’s first president. Truly among the founding fathers and high priests of going fast, his contributions to motorsport are incalculable.

- Matt Stone 06/22

This article was compiled by the editors of LACar.

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