In Duarte you’ll find an impressive collection of vintage race cars, motorcycles, experimental automobiles, and racing memorabilia. And you can visit all this for free.
Justice Brothers: A Legacy of Racing
The Justice Brothers were a trio of mechanically inclined brothers — Ed, Zeke, and Gus — from Paola, Kansas. They worked as mechanics in their hometown and built their first race car when they were teenagers.
Ed answered the siren call of the Southern California racing scene and drove west on Route 66. He convinced Zeke to make the trip (Gus has been paralyzed from an auto accident and stayed behind) to California where they worked in race car fabrication.
Zeke Justice was the first employee at Kurtis-Kraft, famed designer and builder of race cars — especially midget racing cars.
These were smaller, bullet-shaped cars with a high power-to-weight ratio running four-cylinder engines. Racing competitions featuring these cars had become popularized at Loyola Stadium (now Loyola High School Stadium in Pico Union) starting in 1933. The sport was so popular that when Parker Brothers released Monopoly in 1935, one of the game pieces was a midget race car.
But working at Kurtis-Kraft was just their day job. At night and on the weekends, Ed & Zeke operated their own shop — Justice Brothers Racecar Repair & Fabrication. It was here that Zeke came up with a special lubrication formula that made engines more efficient.
They built their own midget car and raced it once (at Gilmore Stadium, which was located in the Fairfax District, right where CBS Television City is today). Then they sold it for a $2500 profit and used that money to invest in starting their fuel additive business. This is what Justice Brothers is known for today.
Since then, Justice Brothers has been a big part of the racing industry. They helped to found NASCAR, and over the years have sponsored several winning race cars of all types. They have worked with some of the biggest names in racing including A.J. Foyt, Richard Petty, Johnnie Parsons, Ed “Big Daddy” Garlits, and Don Prudhomme.
But even if you’ve never hear of the Justice Brothers, you’ve likely seen their logo. Justice Brothers products and paraphernalia frequently make appearances in mechanic’s shops in countless films and television shows such as Grease, The Machinist, Justified, EDtv, Gone in 60 Seconds, and even Glee.
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The Impressive Justice Brothers Collection
As it turns out, after designing, building, and racing cars for decades, Justice Brothers has accumulated a lot of cars. Most of these cars (more than 100 vehicles in total) are on display at their Duarte headquarters, located appropriately on Route 66. The place is loaded with shiny cars — so many, in fact, they’re housed in two separate buildings.
When you first arrive at the unassuming brown brick building, you’ll have to announce yourself through a small speaker. Just say you’re there to look at the cars and they’ll buzz you in. Once inside, in short order someone from the office will meet you to give you a brief orientation tour telling you where you can and cannot go. For instance, you can’t go upstairs or they might, as I was told jokingly, “… put you to work.”
But other than a few sections, you’re pretty much free to wander about the place, looking at the cars and memorabilia on display. They readily allow photographs.
When you’re finished with the main building, you head across the parking lot to the adjacent building. Just press the button and someone in the office unlocks the door for you. In this other building you’ll see more racing cars as well as a handful of classic roadsters and a few more unusual specimens.
In addition to race cars, the Justice Brothers Automotive Collection includes plenty of other vintage cars and a few experimental and rare vehicles, like the three-wheeled BMW Isetta (a 1950s-era three-wheeled nini-car that opened from the front) and 1950 Crosley Wagon.
The central room of this second showcase is dominated by a whole row of DeLuxe Fordor and Model 48 Fords from the 1930s, known for sporting the racing greyhound hood ornament.
The final room of the Justice Brothers Collection, tucked in the back of the second building, showcases a series of more unusual and experimental cars including a restoration of the 1958 dragster build by Romeo Palamides (once called the “World’s Most Beautiful Dragster”) as well as a tribute to Ed “Big Daddy” Roth, the hovercraft from Spaceballs (really), and selection of other vividly painted vehicles.
The Justice Brothers Automotive Collection is one of the best museums featuring racing cars and vintage automobiles on display in Southern California. It’s loaded with racing history, and it’s a worthwhile destination for any automobile aficionado. The collection is only open for viewing during Justice Brothers office hours. Admission is free.
And if you like classic car collections …
In Sylmar, you’ll find a building that contains one of the greatest collections of classic cars in the entire world. And visiting the place is free.
Justice Brothers Automotive Museum
- 2734 E Huntington Dr, Duarte
- GPS Coordinates: 34.138393, -117.945698 [ Google Maps ]
- what3words: ///civic.test.cleans
- Open Monday through Friday, 8 am – 5 pm
- Parking available in the small lot between the buildings.
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