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SO-CAL Speed Shop featured in Mechanix Illustrated, 1952. Best Hot Rods

In 1952, the editors of Mechanix Illustrated voted the SO-CAL Team the Number One Racing Team. The team consisted of Alex standing to the far right of the cover. Seated in the SO-CAL belly tank lakester is Dave DeLangton. Behind the lakester is the ’27 T which ran in Class A Modified Roadster. Bill Barker took the car to 129.15 mph. The channeled Deuce roadster of Clyde Sturdy ran in Class B Modified Roadster and clocked 142 mph. The 3-window coupe was driven by Loren Miller who clocked 120 mph in Class B Coupe.

While fast cars continued to run under the SO-CAL banner, Alex embarked upon another endeavor: documenting auto racing events. He filmed everything from Bonneville to NASCAR, including Pikes Peak, Indy and the 24 Hours of Sebring. "It was hard work," says Alex. "I'd spend hours behind the wheel getting to an event which I'd then have to film, before spending hours printing and editing the film." Meanwhile, in the adjoining San Gabriel Valley, in the town of El Monte, another California kid was bitten with the hot rod bug. Born of a hot rodding father, Pete Chapouris started "cruisin' the boulevards" with his friends around 1955. They'd start at the El Monte In-N-Out on Valley, go straight west to Farmer Boys, out on Colorado to Bob's in Glendale before turning around and going east to Henry's in Arcadia. Like Alex's childhood, it too was an influential time for a young man.

Pete's first hot rod was a '32 roadster, but at the time, nobody cared about roadsters so he sold the body for fifty bucks and substituted a Model A coupe body atop the Deuce rails. A $200 Chevy V8 was mated to a Packard trans at Blair's Speed Shop, and Barris Kustom was paid $10 to reverse the wheels. Like most enthusiasts, Pete went through a string of cars, wheeling and dealing his way up market until he could afford a brand new '61 T-bird. For Alex, the speed equipment business had undergone many changes. The flathead Ford, in which the So-Cal Speed Shop specialized, was no longer the hot rodder's favorite, and small firms like Alex's were under increasing pressure from the "big boys." The final straw came when Alex's right-hand man at the shop, Keith Baldwin, left. Alex closed the doors in 1961.

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