WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Humble beginnings for two brothers.
Legacy of Justice
Sometimes we take the title of this department figuratively, but this time it’s literal. The two young men in their small Kansas hometown are Ed and Lawrence “Zeke” Justice, brothers whose lubrication products and racing sponsorships would reach the highest echelons of motorsport in Indy Car, NASCAR, NHRA, and IMSA, to name just a few.
Ed is sitting in the brothers’ very first race car. Zeke, who preferred motorcycles, is astride a well-dressed Harley. It was the boys’ mother, Anna, who kindled the flame of their mechanical passion by encouraging them to fix, rent, and sell bicycles, just one way the large Justice family made their way through the Great Depression.
It wasn’t long before Ed and Zeke applied their newfound talents to repairing automobiles in the neighborhood. Early in their teen years they built this midget. They used plans they saw in a Popular Mechanics magazine and powered the car with a four-cylinder Whippet engine. Zeke fashioned the aluminum body, and it was Zeke, the more daring of the two, who flipped the car in the center of town while taking it to show friends.
Ed’s son, Ed Jr., and automotive writer Tom Madigan have chronicled the history of the brothers and their impact on motorsports in a new coffee-table book, Legacy of Justice/an American Family Story, produced by the ejje Publishing Group. Granular in detail and full-to-bursting with vintage photography and firsthand recollections (Dan Gurney and Parnelli Jones wrote the foreword), it’s a telling of motorsports history as well as the story of the Justice clan. Zeke was the first employee at Frank Kurtis’s Kurtis-kraft race shop. The Justice Brothers were the first multicar product sponsors in NASCAR, even before the sanctioning body’s formal organization. They participated in 73 runnings of the Indy 500 and celebrated a victory in 1950. They were also the first corporate sponsor of a young drag racer out of Florida named Garlits.—drew HARDIN