Vic Edelbrock, Jr. was every journalists’ dream. He was polite, giving of his time, and willingly answered question after question. Actually, he was more than willing. He seemed to genuinely enjoy answering questions as much as the journalist on the other end of the phone line enjoyed hearing the answers.
I count myself lucky to have been on that other end not once, but twice. Even though the last interview was more than a decade ago, I remember the conversation as clear as day. In fact, a story he told me then remains, hands down, my favorite of all time.
Edelbrock was recounting the happenings of his 66th birthday. The day started out normally enough. He and his wife Nancy were spending time on Catalina Island, California, a place they loved visiting. They’d been active boaters for a while, most recently cruising aboard an 89-footer that Edelbrock had taken delivery of three years prior. He even designed the interior of that yacht mostly himself, to the point of having the galley pick up the distinctive checkerboard flooring of his retail stores, along with the equally distinctive red color of his company. However, the seemingly normal day took quite a distinctive turn—a happy one—when Nancy handed him a large rolled-up sheet of paper. Wrapped up in a big red, white, and blue bow, it was his birthday present. Edelbrock unrolled it to find a rendering of yacht that looked just like VictorE, the 89-footer.
“Oh, that’s nice, I’ll frame it and hang it,” he said.
“No, Vic, take a closer look,” Nancy prodded.
So he did. It wasn’t VictorE after all. It was a 110-footer whose lines were purposely similar. Turns out that Nancy and their captain had been secretly working with Edwin Monk & Son, which designed VictorE, to design a larger yacht as a birthday surprise.
And what a surprise! Edelbrock was delighted, even thrilled. His mind started racing with the possibilities. Then, a thought struck him: “How are we going to pay for this?” he asked Nancy.
“I don’t know, that’s your problem,” she quipped.
Suffice it to say, the problem was resolved. Quickly. And gleefully. Victorious was delivered in 2006, remaining a treasured part of their lives for years to come.
I’ve interviewed a lot of owners in my yachting career. I’ve tremendously enjoyed the range of conversations we’ve had. But Edelbrock was different. Special. It’s hard to describe in words, but he had a way of making you feel so comfortable, as if you’d been neighbors for years. You weren’t interviewing him as much as you were chatting together. It was as if you were sitting right next to him, too, instead of literally on the other side of the nation, connected through some miracle of circuits and copper wires.
Vic Edelbrock, Jr. died a few days ago, following complications from a cold. His family reports he passed peacefully, surrounded by them. He was 80 years old.
A decade ago, the majority of my readers knew, even revered, Edelbrock as the aftermarket automotive parts giant he was. I knew him as a gentleman, and a genuine man.
Vic Edelbrock, Jr. was one in a million. In so many ways.