The Jalopy Journal
Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by HEMI32, Feb 26, 2018.
Roy Russell Fjastad
April 17, 1935 - February 26, 2018
Here's a biographical article written by @Gary Medley for Goodguys.com:
Legends of Hot Rodding – Roy Fjastad’s Hot Rod Journey
November 19, 2017
Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall close to the tree but rather rolls in an entirely different direction. Such is the case of Roy Fjastad, whose accomplishments as a Bonneville, drag strip, and street rod pioneer are worlds apart from his supposed genetic pre-disposition.
Roy R. Fjastad was born on April 17, 1935, to Roy T. and Helen Fjastad. Of Swedish descent, the senior Roy grew up in New York but migrated to Los Angeles in the 1930s to pursue a career in music. He heard Tinseltown calling. In LA, he joined Paramount Pictures as a musical director and worked on feature films, collaborating with some of the industry greats, including director Cecil B. DeMille.
Roy R. had different plans. Music didn’t interest him. He struggled with piano lessons for three years before throwing in the metronome. The family lived in the exclusive Toluca Lake neighborhood, wedged between Burbank and North Hollywood. (A bastion of Hollywood-types, neighbors included Bob Hope and Bobby Darin.) While the sound of piano keys didn’t capture Roy’s attention, the rumble of lakes pipes did. And being near Burbank, Glendale, and Pasadena, hot rods were as prevalent as wannabe starlets. It didn’t hurt that the original SoCal Speed Shop was just down the street.
Roy graduated from North Hollywood High School with an eye toward a career with cars. He learned to weld at a sliding door company and began tinkering with dragsters, crafting chassis for a couple friends in his garage. He was 19. Prominent quarter-mile chassis builder Scotty Fenn became aware of Roy’s nascent talent and hired the young protégé. For the next two years, Roy honed his fabricating skills at Fenn’s Chassis Research.
During this period, Roy also drag raced himself, winning his first trophy at Santa Ana in 1952. He also joined the famous Road Kings car club in Burbank, which meant he got to hang with such luminaries as “TV” Tommy Ivo, and Don “the Snake” Prudhomme. He also squeezed in frequent treks to Bonneville, beginning a long love affair with the salt.
Roy’s real talent, though, lay behind a welding shield, not inside a crash helmet. He leveraged his experience with Fenn to a position with Ivo, and after two years with Tommy, he hung out his own shingle — Speed Products Engineering (SPE) — and for the next decade became one of drag racing’s most prominent chassis builders.
Roy built, owned, & raced the "Car Craft Machine" #121 B/Lakester
All told, Fjastad’s Speed Products Engineering built 225 race cars, including dragsters for John Wiebe, Larry Dixon Sr., @Don Johnson's "Beachcomber”, the Howard Cam Rattler, Ray Godman’s “Tennessee Bo Weevil,” and the Vince Rossi Parnelli Jones “Wedge Car,” also know as the Flying Doorstop. According to Hot Rod magazine, the Flying Doorstop was unofficially the first car into the 5s in 1972 at Lions Drag Strip, and later set a national speed record of 239.64 mph. Danny Ongais later jumped in the Doorstop and dropped a then mind-blowing 243.24 mph.
Innovation always has been Roy’s calling card. He developed the hydro-formed bell housing, two-piece couplers (originated at SPE and still used today), plus various disc brake applications, aerodynamic front wheels, and traction-enhancing torsion bar assemblies. Later, he reinvented the humble Dzus fastener, the ubiquitous quick-release device that holds body panels in place. Roy replaced the slot with a more secure Allen wrench receptor.
By the late 1960s, Fjastad began dabbling in the burgeoning street rod market, manufacturing street components along with his racing pieces. As the street scene exploded in the early 1970s — propelled by magazines such as Rod & Custom and Street Rodder — Roy shifted gears. In 1976 he closed his race car shop and formed the Deuce Factory in Orange County.
Roy wrenching on the Full Bore #777 rear-engine modified roadster.
At the Deuce Factory, he developed a complete line of components including the first set of reproduction ’32 Ford frame rails, which were so accurate Henry himself would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference. “Roy’s creation of Deuce rails were a benchmark in street rodding,” Goodguys founder Gary Meadors once said. With the Deuce being the heart of the hot rod aesthetic, and with fiberglass ’32s flooding the market, Fjastad’s timing was perfect. Customers flocked to Roy’s flawlessly accurate frame rails.
Eventually, Fjastad sold the Deuce Factory to his son and ratcheted back his career. Still full of life, he started Full Bore Race Products to market his unique Dzus fasteners and a host of small components and tools for hardcore racers. This also provided more free time to compete at Bonneville, where he had been a regular for more than three decades. He always had a special fondness for the salt, campaigning a modified roadster, a streamliner, and a wild rear-engined roadster. Most impressive was his Pontiac Firebird coupe, which ushered Roy into the 200 MPH Club (of which he was later served as president) with a robust pass of 226 mph!
Now in his 80s, Fjastad still works every day at Full Bore’s headquarters in Santa Ana. His back isn’t the greatest, but he enjoys the craftsmanship of making small bits racers can still use. When asked what he attributes his longevity and success to, he says, “Simple – just hard work and enthusiasm for the sport.” Does he miss drag racing? “Not really,” he said, lamenting that modern diggers have devolved into cookie-cutter machines, sans the innovation that marked the early days.
While Roy is scaling back his involvement, his sons and daughters have embraced the industry. His oldest son, Carl, runs the Deuce Frame Company in Santa Ana, producing street rod chassis components; Roy’s middle son, Roy Jr., owns West Coast Street Rods in Huntington Beach; and Roy’s only daughter, Kathy, is married to Top Fuel legend and former NHRA exec Carl Olson.
In other words, Roy Fjastad’s hot rod legacy will live on for years to come, spurred on by his talented prodigy. Unlike Roy and his father, the “apples” Roy created from his legacy of innovation and success have landed very close to the tree, indeed.
He was a hot rodder's hot rodder. RIP, Roy.
Another one gone. R I P.
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Condolences to the Fjastad family and friends on the passing of Roy. He by all accounts did everything so right. He will be remembered through his many accomplishments that have spanned the Hotrod/Racing world. It is a testiment to his success in that the family has been able to continue to offer competitive products to the industry.
Thank you @HEMI32 for sharing the unfortunate news of Roys passing with us.
My condolences to family and friends. Roy's Deuce Factory was a blessing for us Hot Rodders.
Another of the Santa Ana gang gone to the racetrack in the sky. First Art, then Dan and now Roy.
Roy's #777 rear engined roadster provided some important ideas that were incorporated into the build of the multiple record holding #1429 roadster in my avatar, which I built in 2009. Thank you again, Roy, and rest in peace.
What a life, well lived. RIP. Gary
To keep history straight..the chassis builder was Scotty FENN...not Flynn
I'd like to write an obituary for Mr. Fjastad for the Hemmings Daily. Does anyone have an image I can use? It doesn't appear we've written about him before and I don't like to bother grieving families with stuff like this. Thanks.
Thanks Hemi32, Another legend of our hobby/sport is gone but his lifetime of contributions to the hobby have and will continue to enhance the lives of many.
Prayers go out to his family.R.I.P.our friend. Bruce.
In the mid eighties, when I worked for Magoo, I would often go down to see Roy and crew, spent quite a bit of time there. Always felt welcome, and still see Carl on occasion. I would catch up most years at the Salt, too. I`ll miss those times. My sincere condolences to Pat, Roy, Carl, Jay and Kathy.
I met Roy at Bakersfield at the CHHR in 2002, when he stopped to check out a Chassis Research Dragster we had brought for the Cacklefest. The Dragster was the Coleman Bros FL44 rear engine car, and we had a great visit about his time working for Scotty. About 5 years ago, I started building a Rear Engine Modified Roadster for Bonneville, my first call was to Roy. He was very helpful, in the design, along with looking over my chassis construction progress. In our talks about current Drag Racing, he said, that if there was a real Junior Fuel Class, with direct drive, (no transmission) he would build a car and go racing again. R.I.P. Mr. Fjastad
When I moved to Fountain Valley in 1971, Roy was one of my neighbors. I'm glad we became friends and I went to his Santa Ana shop many times especially when he was running his Firebird. I became friends with all 3 of his children as they all shared his interest in the automotive fraternity in one way or another.
He was one of the SoCal pioneers who had the respect of all of his peers. He will be missed......JD
Amazing life and one hell of a innovator.
Another has crossed the Finish Line, RIP, it was a good trip.
We were very sad to hear about Roy's passing. He was always hospitable whenever we visited him at his shop. This pic is from June 2014 R.I.P. Roy
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Sad to read this, Dale (Weedetr) Caulfield alerted me with this news as we were just talking about Roy the other day.
If you were a young guy growing up 70’s- 80’s you’d know about a few key places. Pete & Jake’s, Beverly Hills Hot Rod Shop-owned then by Jim DeFrank and Andy Cohen=they had a great frame jig that Dave “Dessert Head” Gorges has owned for 30 yrs, and the key to this whole deal Roy (Deuce Facory) Fjastad.
Without Roy and his vision, there wouldn’t have been quite the resurgence in Hot Rods as Roy made-stamped some nice 32 rails. He also bought raw stampings from P&J’s and did his own 4-bars with stainless batwings and many other components.
Lucky to have made his aquaintance and met his whole family doing business on occasion.
Watched his lakes activity both dry & salt and am glad to know him.
RIP Roy. We lost another great one.
My involvement with him was all SPE. Very few cars in the 70's and 80's didn't have parts that he pioneered on them. Does anybody remember when he sold that to Cox?
May he rest in peace. I remember the excitement and maybe a bit of controversy when he first came out with his deuce rails.
Roy got into the "Two Club" in 1989 ...
#232 also set records in Australia and back at Bonneville under Australian ownership.
A testament to his building and tuning skills.
Such a loss of a Icon. RIP.
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