SO-CAL Speed Shop 060128 by Christopher Schmidt. (Richard Parks)


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SO-CAL Speed Shop exists as a testimonial to the pioneering spirit of men such as shop founder
Alex Xydias and current owner Pete Chapouris.  Recently, these two legends attended a news
conference at the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum for the grand opening of 60 Years
of SO-CAL Speed, a new exhibit celebrating the shop's milestone anniversary.  With an extensive
collection of photographs, trophies and memorabilia, the new exhibit shows the shop's evolution
from the day Xydias opened his Burbank shop in 1946.  Among the SO-CAL creations on display
are the So-Cal Double Threat 1934 Coupe, the Morris' Brothers' So-Cal Model A Roadster, the
Haas Racing 1934 Roadster and a re-creation of Xydias' 1953 Ford F-100 Push Truck built by
the team at SO-CAL's Phoenix, Arizona shop.  Also on display is the famed SO-CAL Belly Tank
Lakester driven by Alex Xydias at Bonneville in 1952.  The car set the top speed for Class C
Lakesters at a speed of 198.88 mph, at Bonneville.  The exhibit is open for public viewing through
April 9th, with Xydias making three more Museum appearances for special Saturday showings of
his drag racing (Feb 25), Sebring (Mar 18) and Indy 500 (Apr 1) film footage. "Well, I was going
to tell you all the story of my life," said Xydias during the media event. "But I've been told that
time is running short, so I'll have to skip ahead to the junior high school years."  Xydias has
dedicated his life to the sport of hot rodding.  He opened the shop in 1946 on the day he was
discharged from the Army Air Corps.  SO-CAL was a home for building, restoring and racing hot
rods, custom cars and motorcycles.  In 1997, he teamed up with legendary street rod builder Pete
Chapouris to revive the SO-CAL name in the hopes of continuing its legacy and furthering its iconic
stature in the industry. Chapouris has expanded its brand power immensely.  Today, the SO-CAL
logo can be found on everything from surfboards and clothing to beach cruising bicycles.  Rocker
Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top asked SO-CAL to build two high-profile cars; the Kopperhed and
SlampalaThe 60th anniversary is a great jumping off point for SO-CAL, said Chapouris. It's
taken time to build up the business, and I really feel like we're on the cusp of a re-emergence
as a considerable force in the hot rod industry.  We've got an anniversary gala scheduled in
March at the Petersen Automotive Museum, and our line of 60th anniversary clothing just
made its debut.  It's going to be an exciting year-long celebration.  According to Xydias, the
Museum exhibit was a welcomed and unexpected surprise.  The shop has generated a lot of
history over the years, he said.  When I first borrowed $100 from my mother to start a
garage, it never entered my mind that we'd be here today celebrating more than six decades
of business.  After the war the car industry was booming.  Guys like me had some extra
money and a lot of extra time to spend creating some of the finest examples of automobile
engineering.  I'm honored that I was able to be a part of that.  In its heyday, SO-CAL was
renowned for its accomplishments.  In 1950, the Xydias & Batchelor SO-CAL Speed Shop
Special became the fastest car in America after setting a record at the Bonneville Salt Flats.  Three
years later, the SO-CAL Competition Coupe set a 172 mph record at Bonneville as the SCTA
Point Champion Fox & Cubb entry the vehicle set a record for its class.  Between 1948 and 1954
the SO-CAL team set more than 20 records with their innovations, and that spirit of creativity is a
reemerging trend.  We're currently working on projects with a lot of big names in the industry,
said Chapouris.  I think you can expect to see the SO-CAL team set a few new records this
year.   One of the recent projects is the GM Ecotec Lakester, which is also on display at the
Museum.  In 2003, the Director of GM Performance Division contracted the SO-CAL team to
build an Ecotec-powered Saturn Ion Red Line coupe for Bonneville racing.  The car set a record
at 212.684 mph, and a second Lakester was commissioned the following year.  The shop is doing
more relevant work today then it has ever has.  The Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum is
open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., PST. Current NHRA members are admitted
free. Admission for non-members is $5 for adults, $3 for seniors 60 and older, $3 for juniors six
through 15, and free for children under the age of five. The Museum is also available for private
parties, meetings, corporate events, weddings and special group tours. The Wally Parks NHRA
Motorsports Museum is located at Fairplex Gate 1, 1101 W. McKinley Ave. in Pomona. For
further information on special exhibits, museum events or directions, call 909/622-2133 or visit  (Christopher Schmidt)