Lakeside Auto

Lakeside Auto

I wasn’t thinking about hot rod history when I pulled onto Richmond’s Lakeside Avenue last summer. My mind was split into two camps — where’s Roy’s Big Burger and where’s the lake. During my delirious episode, I squinted at the buildings that lined the street: an old appliance store, some dry cleaners and a handful of service garages. Wasting no time, I grabbed my lunch, glanced at an older Pontiac outside a shop and moved on with my day.

Earlier this week I realized I had missed something. The shop with the Poncho was none other than Lakeside Auto. It’s a simple red brick building with six bays, a small window and porcelain letters that spell out “Auto Specialist.? This “new shop? has been in service since 1965.

Before Lakeside Auto, there was Lakeside Auto Service and Speed Shop. Located a couple hundred yards down the street, the original Lakeside was established in 1929 by the late Joe Weis. For decades Weis and his sons catered to local hot rodders by selling parts and sharing expertise.

By 1961, 24-year-old Dan Weis decided to join the rapidly growing dragster ranks. Dan’s nephew, Scott says his uncle built the dragster at their shop on Lakeside. Starting with a pile of .125 wall 2¾ inch tubing, the Weis team assembled the 103 inch chassis with a double reinforced rollbar. A leaf sprung Ford tube axle supported the front end while a solid-mounted banjo — packed with 4.11 gears — took up the rear.

In its original form, the car was equipped with a gas burning 339 c.i. Chevy. The 1960 motor featured a Crankshaft Co. crank, Isky cam and Jahns pistons. Fuel from the Moon tank was injected through a Hilborn unit while a Ronco Magneto provided the spark. Backed by a modified ’41 Cadillac trans, the B/Dragster launched hard and ripped into the record books with a 9.72 e.t. in 1961.

With the addition of a 6-71 and two-port Hilborn, The Rebel continued to build speed and publicity by 1962. That same year, the Lakeside team snagged a feature in Hot Rod magazine and Weis family went on to make Virginia hot rodding history. Thought their list of achievements spans decades, Dan, who passed away in May 2014, was best known for founding Richmond Dragway.

History was right in front of me that day on Lakeside. I just needed to look closer.

-Joey Ukrop

Photos by Jack Eaton, Hot Rod July 1962.

Side Notes:

1) If you’re into Virginia’s speed shops and such, check out this thread on the Garage Journal.

2) Dig that wagon in the current Google Maps shot…


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