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Alex Xydias 90th Birthday Gala June 16, 2012

Alex Xydias 90th Birthday Gala June 16, 2012

Alex Xydias’ 90th Birthday Gala
Conference Center at the L.A. Fairplex
Story & Photographs by Roger Rohrdanz.


Roger Rohrdanz

On June 16, 2012, at the recently completed, 85,000 square foot, Fairplex Conference Center.  Over 400 hot rodders gathered to help, landspeed racing pioneer, Alex Xydias celebrate his 90th birthday.  He began racing on dry lakebeds of the Southern California desert in the 1930’s.  He opened the first So-Cal Speed Shop in Burbank in 1946.  In 1949 Bonneville Salt Flats were opened for landspeed racing, Alex and So-Cal Speed Shop were there.  The Xydias-Batchelor Streamliner took 1st place at that 1st Bonneville race.  In the 50’s Drag Racing became the new motorsport, Alex and So-Cal were there.  Filmmaking, magazine editor, magazine publishing, and trade show director were added to his resume.  In the 70’s Alex partnered with Mickey Thompson to create the SCORE off-road equipment show.  Alex is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum. 

But wait, there’s more!  In 2011 Alex founded “The Alex Xydias Center for Automotive Arts” (AXC).  Somewhere in the Fairplex, at a location known only as “Warehouse B”, the newest member of the Career & Technical Education Center (CTEC) is gaining momentum.  The reason for this program began with the decline of funding for high school auto shop programs.  AXC will provide instruction and certification in a two-year hands-on program, at no cost to the students.  The proceeds from this event will go to AXC and the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum.  To learn more contact,  or contact

The gala event began with a cocktail party in a room adjacent to the dining room.  Most of the items in the silent and live auctions were on display.  Over 25 silent auction items plus another 11 live auction items would find a new home tonight.  The center of the room was occupied by the So-Cal Roadster, So-Cal Coupe, and Bill Lindig’s 2012 AMBR winner.  Alex Xydias was very busy autographing posters and t-shirts.  At 7:00 the wall of the cocktail room opened to expose the regal dining room set for almost 500 guests.  On each side of the stage were two 10 x 10 projection screens.  The event was Mc’ed by “Uncle” Joe Benson, he welcomed the guests.  After dinner, as the desert was being served to the guests, Alex was presented with his birthday cake. (without candles)  We all sang Happy Birthday to him.  Ed Edelbrock stood up and finished with a little ditty about “live 100 years, drink a 100 beers, get plastered you dirty basterd, Happy Birthday to you”.  Pete Chapouris, So-Cal Speed Shop president, introduced the birthday boy, Alex Zydias.  Using only a slideshow, Alex provided us with a very interesting 45 minute biography, and at 90 he used no script!  Joe Benson then introduced Jon Blickenstaff, AXC Committee Chairman; he gives us a short overview of the AXC program. Next Greg Sharp, Curator of the Auto Club Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum, is introduced and briefly describes the roll and direction of the Museum.  Master of Ceremonies Joe Benson begins the very spirited live auction of landspeed racing memorabilia from Alex Xyidas’ collection.  The guests honored the cause by responding with impressive bids.  The final item went “on the block”, it is Alex’s First Annual Bonneville National Speed Trials, First Place Streamliner Trophy of 1949.  After heated bidding it went home with a new owner, and the money went to a good cause.  At that point Joe Benson thanked everyone for coming with their generosity.