E X C E R P T
Nick Arias, Jr.
Nick Arias, Jr. is the founder of Nick Arias Jr. Racing Components and has been a long time force in high performance engine, piston and cylinder head design. Following a stint in the military during the Korean war, he went to work at Wayne Manufacturing where he significantly elevated his knowledge about engines, pistons and cylinder head design. Like so many of his trail blazing colleagues of the period, Nick’s excellent high school education at L.A. Polytechnic High School along with his intuition, drive and quest to know more about how to make cars go fast, led to a long and distinguished career in engine component design and racing.
Everything I did in high school I practiced as an adult, so I have put a lot of emphasis on counseling. You need to take a kid and find out what his aptitude is and then push him that way. Take whatever time it takes, instead of just letting him fade away or waste away. Because, as I said, everything I’ve done as an adult in and out of business, I learned and did in high school. So, Iskenderian went to Poly High, John Athan, Fran Hernandez. A lot of talent came out of there.
I went to grammar school in first and second grade, and then I transferred to a local Catholic school, St. Thomas, and went from the third through the eighth grade, it was right there, our parish school. So I didn’t go to public school until high school. And all this required tuition, so my mother worked at May Company department store in LA part time, to help pay the cost, along with my dad’s help. So I graduated from St. Thomas in the eighth grade, and my folks wanted me to go to Loyola High School, which was next door, a very prestigious Catholic school. Jesuits...tough! I really didn’t want to go, but to satisfy them, I went. I tried it but I didn’t get through Latin and Algebra. Following this I was supposed to go to Berendo Junior High for eighth and ninth, but a friend of mine changed my transcript to be in the tenth grade and I went Poly High, (L.A.) Polytechnic High. So I started fresh, younger in high school and very naive, because I had just come out of Catholic school. So I started out on an academic track, but halfway through, we all took aptitude tests. And the counselor called me in and interviewed me and he said that my test results indicated that I had a high aptitude for industrial arts, so he recommended that I change my major. So I did that, and was able to take auto shop three periods a day. I had machine shop, and I had a general metals class where we covered all the metals. We even had a foundry. We poured aluminum, and we had lathes and welding, and we learned all these different skills. Everything I did in high school I practiced as an adult, so I have put a lot of emphasis on counseling. You need to take a kid and find out what his aptitude is and then push him that way. Take whatever time it takes, instead of just letting him fade away or waste away. Because, as I said, everything I’ve done as an adult in and out of business, I learned and did in high school. So, Iskenderian went to Poly High, John Athan, Fran Hernandez, he just passed away. He was with Ford, Edelbrock’s early, and was a serious racer. A lot of talent came out of there.
I went to Poly High all four years and graduated in 1947. And then I worked at Andy Parks’ part house. But while I was in school, I took the three periods of shop everyday and in my last year of the program, I drove the truck for the auto shop. We had a pickup truck and we’d need to get parts for the cars we were all working on, and I was the authorized driver. So all the places where I picked up parts, they got to know me. So I was buying parts for fixing cars and building engines at home, for a discount, even though I wasn’t in business. So I created a margin there where I could sell cheap, and I really learned business by doing that. So I was working in my dad’s garage at home. I was building engines, boring, I had a boring bar that I’d bought. I was boring engines and building chevy small blocks. And by then, we had a racing club called the Photons that we were all in, we ran El Mirage dry lakes from my senior year on, from 1947 through1950. We came up with the name as a basic unit of light. And light being about as fast as it gets, we all thought that was a good idea.