Engine Builder Hall of Fame 2024: “The Camfather” Ed Iskenderian

When the Engine Builder Hall of Fame was founded in late 2023, the four distinct eras of eligibility were established: Pre-World War II, Post-World War II, 1960s to 1970s, and 1980s to 1990s. When the first class of inductees was announced at the beginning of 2024, two inductees were chosen from each era. We’ve covered the pre-WWII inaugural class of Ed Winfield and Harry Miller in previous articles. Now, we’re moving on to the post-WWII inductees. The first of the two inductees into this pivotal point in hot-rodding history is none other than the Camfather himself, Ed Iskenderian.

You’ve likely heard of Isky Racing Cams before. In case you haven’t put two and two together, “Isky” is a shorthand nickname for Ed Iskenderian. Born in July of 1921 (and about to celebrate his 103rd birthday), Isky is a native Angeleno (someone from Los Angeles), which put him right at the epicenter of hot-rodding’s birth. America’s entrance into World War II put the young-man’s hot rodding on hold while he did his civic duty, joining the Army Air Corps, which only furthered his knowledge, understanding, and most importantly, passion for engines.

After V-E and V-J day, Isky came home and started the company bearing his name — Isky Cams. That specialization took him on a journey of monumental success, as not only did he inherently understand a camshaft’s job and how to make more power via cam design, he also understood the entire system. Credited with designing the first adjustable rocker arms, Isky changed the course of performance valvetrains.

Another of Isky’s industry-changing innovations came when he replaced the typical flat face of a tappet with a self-guiding roller wheel, a design he coined the “Rev-Roller.” Beyond revolutionizing the industry, this invention went on to subsequently influence every aftermarket roller lifter design the market has ever seen. This new design allowed him to get even more inventive with his camshaft profiles.

The patent that absolutely set Isky apart from the rest of the industry – both as a man and as a company. This roller lifter design from 1958 was absolutely revolutionary for the industry.

That outside-of-the-box thinking not only led to more power, but also caught the attention of the rapidly growing sport of drag racing. Isky became a regular at the drag strip, partnering with some of the biggest personalities in the sport. The company only continued to grow, thanks to partnering with winning teams and a continual development of his products, never resting on his laurels or accepting “good enough.”

His induction to the Engine Builder Hall of Fame comes as no surprise, because he more than meets any requirements you could possibly establish. Besides the feat of shaping and guiding the entire forward progress of the industry for several decades, there’s also the fact that Isky Racing Cams is still in business today. It’s nothing to sneeze at to not only have a business thriving after almost 80 years of continuous operation, but as of late, that it still operates out of Southern California, the birthplace of hot-rodding.

Ed Iskenderian in his same hot rod, all these years later.

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Greg Acosta

Greg has spent nineteen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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