A Hot Roadster
“Meet Leslie Jr. and Sr.” read the caption for this photo in the Sept. 1955 HOT ROD. That would be Ron Leslie behind the wheel and his father Roy standing beside the car.
The NHRA Drag Safari had stopped in Denver for the year’s sixth regional drag meet, right in the backyard of the Kenz & Leslie racing juggernaut. Bill Kenz and Roy Leslie had been partners in their automotive service business since 1938, back in the days when Roy was a midget racing phenom. Bill rose to national attention when his twinflat-head-powered Odd Rod pickup appeared on the cover of the July 1949 HRM, and then again a few months later when the Odd Rod topped 140 mph at the inaugural Bonneville Speed Trials (“a big surprise for everyone,” wrote HRM in Oct. 1949, “except [for Kenz] himself”). With a streamliner body replacing the ’31 pickup sheetmetal, the Kenz & Leslie No. 777 would go on to set several salt-flat records.
Roy’s son Ron grew up going to area tracks with his dad, and he joined the Kenz & Leslie business—and racing effort— after he got out of the service in the mid 1950s.
Kenz & Leslie brought two cars to the ’55 Denver race: this ’32 roadster powered by a 352ci Lincoln engine, and a 1,040-pound rail with 296 inches of Merc flathead aboard. Here, like all the other venues in which they competed, they were a force to be reckoned with. The Deuce won the A/hot Roadster class with a best speed of 109.63; the dragster, driven by Joe Kelly, set top speed of the meet at 122.28 mph, upping the strip’s 119-mph record.