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Justified - Ed Justice Jr

A young man with a camera and a yen for Tri-X

By Jim McGowan, Photography by Ed Justice Jr. Collections

Beginning in earnest on city streets in the late '40s, drag racing grew in popularity so quickly that dedicated tracks began popping up all over the country, particularly on deserted concrete WWII airfields. In the '50s, car magazines wanted to capitalize on this new sport and started to cover these grassroots events regularly. After Wally Parks founded the National Hot Rod Association in 1951, drag racing came into its own, opening a career opportunity for many budding photographers.

Throughout the next decades, professional photographers Steve Reyes, Ralph Guldahl, Jr., Jim Kelly, Tim Marshall, Ron Lewis, Norman Blake, Bob McClurg, Les Welch, Jere Alhadeff, Don Green, Jon Asher, Les Lovett, Mert Miller, Dave Wallace (Sr. and Jr.), Tom West, Dave Milcarek, Dave Kommel, Robert Genat, Rich Carlson, Paul Sadler, Ed Justice, Jr., and many others burned film at tracks nationwide and brought the action to fans on every newsstand in America.

Justice started shooting drag-racing events when he was 12 years old. His passion for the sport came naturally, as he was part of a famous racing family. Using a Konica Auto S2 fixed-lens camera, a gift from his dad in 1966, he spent almost every weekend practicing his technique. By the time he was 14, Ed was shooting the action at Pomona, Irwindale, Orange County, Lions, Ontario, and Bakersfield and contributing his images to various magazines. Not yet old enough for a driver's license, his dad or his uncles were his designated drivers to the events—and also his biggest fans.

By 16, Ed had turned pro, writing articles and providing event coverage for National Dragster, Drag Racing USA, Drag News and several national publications that included Car Craft and Hot Rod. He became a regular fixture at these events, and being a kid he got to know most of the drivers and was always welcome in the pits.

These images were taken between 1969 and 1971. Many of the photos here have appeared in various publications over the last 40 or so years. Ed is the President and CEO of Justice Brothers and curator of the Justice Private Automotive Collection in Duarte, California. He still shoots at various motorsports venues today.


By Jim McGowan
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