A Hot Road­ster

Hot Rod Deluxe - - Where It All Began -

“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.

—DREW HARDIN

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