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Ed Justice, 1921 - 2008

Race-car enthusiast started oil-additive firm in Duarte

September 05, 2008|Claire Noland | Times Staff Writer

Ed Justice Sr., a race-car enthusiast who founded the Duarte-based Justice Brothers oil-additive business with his siblings Zeke and Gus, has died. He was 87.

Justice, whose company became a major sponsor on various auto racing circuits, died Saturday of complications from kidney failure at Methodist Hospital in Arcadia, said his son, Ed Jr., president and chief executive of the company.

As teenagers in the 1930s, the brothers got their start building midget race cars in their native Kansas before moving to Southern California. They worked for noted car builder Frank Kurtis in Glendale, then struck out on their own after World War II.

Using $2,500 from the sale of one of their midget race cars, the brothers began formulating, manufacturing and selling auto engine additives for professional racers as well as ordinary drivers. Gus handled the company's finances, Zeke dealt with product formulation, and Ed was in charge of sales and marketing.

The Justices moved the business to Jacksonville, Fla., in the late 1940s, then returned to Southern California in the late 1950s, along the way building their product line and increasing their sponsorship role. Among the cars the Justice Brothers backed was driver Johnnie Parsons' 1950 Indianapolis 500 winner.

Ed Justice was born June 12, 1921, in Paola, Kan., the youngest of six children. He worked at Douglas Aircraft Co. before being drafted into the Army Air Forces and serving in England during World War II. In 1947 he married his first wife, Maureen. She died in 1983.

Although Justice shifted his focus from airplanes to cars after the war, examples of both can be found at the Justice Brothers Racing Museum attached to the company's headquarters in Duarte. He retired from the company in the 1980s but enjoyed showing visitors the collection of vintage midget cars, motorcycles and other racing memorabilia.

In addition to his son, Justice is survived by his second wife, Linda; two granddaughters; two stepdaughters; six step-grandchildren and a sister.

Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday at 11 a.m. in the Sky Rose Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary in Whittier. A celebration of Justice's life will be held afterward at the Justice Brothers Racing Museum.

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claire.noland@latimes.com

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