Born March 22, 1922, in Los Angeles. Alex' first hot rod, a '29 roadster, which he
drove to Fairfax High School, was paid for with part-time earnings. By the time he
went into the Army Air Corps in 1942, he owned a '34 coupe and a beautifully customized
'34 cabriolet which he found in the lower basement garage at the Ambassador Hotel
in Los Angeles. According to Alex, "During the war, all we talked about was cars
and once, when on furlough, a friend took me to a street race out in the San Fernando
Valley. I was really surprised at how fast the cars ran and I got the idea to open
a speed shop."
On the day of his discharge, March 3, 1946, using some borrowed money, Alex opened
So-Cal Speed Shop on Olive Avenue in Burbank. "I really struggled to keep it going,"
says Alex. "Sometimes I made less than $100 a month but the hard work paid off, and
when my one-year lease was up, I moved shop to 1104 South Victory Boulevard in Burbank
where I placed a Sears Roebuck prefab two-car garage." The hot rods that bore the
So-Cal logo ran in pretty fast company. For example, a V8-60-powered lakester clocked
136-mph in 1948 and So-Cal cars were the first hot rods to go 160, 170, 180 and 190
mph. Mechanix Illustrated magazine voted the So-Cal gang the Number One Racing Team.
This early success was quickly ratified when Alex teamed up with legendary auto enthusiast
and author Dean Batchelor to develop a purpose-built streamliner. Powered by an Edelbrock-equipped
Mercury V8, the liner ran 210 mph in 1950.
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, the speed
equipment business was undergoing 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' were under increasing pressure from the "big boys." The final straw came
when Alex' right-hand man at the shop, Keith Baldwin, left. Alex closed the doors
Although Alex’ film making was doing well, he accepted a position as editor of Petersen
Publishing’s Car Craft magazine in 1963. He stayed with Petersen 12 1/2 years transferring
to Hot Rod Industry News, where he later became publisher. While there, he also served
as director of the annual Petersen Trade Show, which eventually became the SEMA (Specialty
Equipment Market Association) Show—now the tenth largest trade show in the U.S. After
leaving Petersen, Alex went on to work with partner Mickey Thompson organizing the
SCORE off-road equipment trade show. They were friends and partners in that hugely
successful event for 10 years until Mickey’s untimely death. Alex was inducted into
the SEMA Hall of Fame in 1982. He was also inducted into the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame
and has been honored with lifetime memberships in the SCTA and his old car club the
In 1996, in his early seventies, he once again climbed behind the wheel of a race
car and followed that long black line at Bonneville. Driving John Wolf’s Modified
Roadster he earned his Competition License at 176 mph. The following year was another
banner year. He was selected as one of the Top 100 Most Influential People within
the high-performance industry and thus inducted into the Hot Rod Magazine Hall of
Fame. Meanwhile, he had been approached by Pete Chapouris who had recently restored
Alex’ original belly tank for custodian Bruce Meyer. “Pete was looking for a direction
for his new hot rod company and wondered if we could come to some agreement on the
use of the So-Cal name,” remembers Alex. Canny Alex who had been wise enough to not
only retain the rights to his legendary name and logo but also produce a commemorative
catalog, hit it off with his fellow Greek and struck a deal. The new SO-CAL Speed
Shop (the SO-CAL was now in upper case to differentiate it from the old business)
was announced on November 21, 1997, at the NHRA Hot Rod Reunion in Bakersfield, California.
Our story doesn’t end there though. Alex is continually involved with SO-CAL on a
consulting basis. He attends many events where his autograph is always in demand
and he has given slide shows of his story from England to Phoenix, Arizona. Not only
that but he was recently appointed to the board of the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports
Museum. And, as if that is not enough he’s working diligently on transferring all
his old motorsports films to video tape so that we can all enjoy them in the comfort
of our arm chairs. Makes you tired just thinking about him, doesn’t it?