- Written by webmin
Traco Engineering may not have ever been a household name – Jim Travers and Frank Coon seemed to prefer working behind the scenes, building engines for major race teams rather than for the general public. Still, they’re a significant duo in American high-performance history, enough to warrant a Hot Rod Hero article on them in the May 2010 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.
Their reluctance to deal with the general public, along with their integration into the world of automobile racing shows in their choice of location – a location that took a little digging to find. Starting in about 1957, Travers and Coon sited Traco Engineering on West Jefferson Boulevard in Culver City, California, along Thunder Alley. The block got its name from the heavy hitters that located their shops on West Jefferson – Dick Guldstrand, James Garner, and Lance Reventlow, among many others – who would test their race cars up and down the block.
But where exactly was Traco Engineering located? Rex Dean, the guy behind VukovichAccident.com, describes the location generally:
Their shop was located in Los Angeles near the intersection of the San Diego and Marina (90) Freeways. The shop was on W. Jefferson Boulevard and it is difficult to find but the building is still be there. You must wind around under giant freeway overpasses. It was a smaller size shop in a row of buildings just West of the Freeway. At one time it operated there was a large Champion Spark Plug sign on the front. We have driven by the building lately and failed to locate the actual facility. We believe it is one of the two side by side cinder block structures near the center of the row.
But a 1976 book on hot-rodding small-block Chevrolet V-8s includes the exact address: 11928 W. Jefferson Boulevard. Unfortunately, Google Maps and Bing Maps are both a little vague on the exact building in that row that contains that address.
Fortunately, we found a couple photos to clear things up for us. The first, at the top of this post, comes from Jerry Entin over at the Autosport.com forums. He notes that Traco’s back garage door is on the right (the white-painted building), which Howden Ganley then supported by visiting the area and photographing the buildings as they appear today (they’re still there, though the Traco building now houses a recording studio).
Further confirmation comes from a photo that Jim Miller recently posted on the American Hot Rod Foundation’s site, showing the same two buildings, just with “Traco Engineering” painted on the white building.
So we can tell that Jim Nairn’s shop – later Lance Reventlow’s shop – is the one furthest to the southwest in that line of buildings, with the Traco shop immediately next to it. Guldstrand’s shop was located at 11924 West Jefferson (as seen here), which places it right on the other side of Traco. Helen’s Diner, a frequent haunt of the Thunder Alley denizens, appears to be next.
I’ve read that Iskendarian and Edelbrock had shops in Thunder Alley as well, but I’ve yet to confirm their addresses in this block. Troutman and Barnes were also Culver City residents, possibly on Thunder Alley, but I’m still looking for an address for them.