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In the exclusive world of motorsports competition, the name Justice Brothers is well-known around the world.
Having been major supporters of vehicles involved in almost every kind of racing venue, from mid-west dirt tracks to the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500 and the 24 Hours of LeMans, the company has developed a reputation for being true supporters for more than six decades. The colorful Justice Brothers logo has adorned some of the most famous racecars to ever hit the track.
But it wasn’t always that way. It was their mother that encouraged their curiosity with the then growing world of the automobile. The young Justice Brothers quickly got involved in cars and mechanics. This was rural Kansas in the 1930′s and hot rodding had yet to catch on nationwide. Still, the brothers got a hold of an old Whippet automobile and proceeded to strip it down, removing the fenders and doing some elementary channeling. They even sent away to Clymer Publications for mail order plans on how to build a midget racer at home. After a near collision with the mayor of the town, their dreams were put on hold. Instead they were persuaded to open a bicycle rental and repair shop. All of this helped to hone their mechanical skills.
Towards the end of the 1930’s, Ed set out in a 1936 Ford sedan to find employment in California. Soon Ed was working at Douglas Aircraft building the B-19 bomber. It wasn’t long until Ed was calling his brother Zeke with news that he had a job for him in California at a racecar shop owned by multi-millionaire Joel Thorne.
It was at Thorne Engineering that Zeke met his future boss, Frank Kurtis. Zeke joined Frank Kurtis at Kurtis-Kraft as the first employee. He help build the first Kurtis Indy car, the famous NOVI Indy car, as well as hundreds of the famous Kurtis-Kraft midgets.
After the war, Ed fresh back from serving overseas in the Eighth Airforce, joined Zeke at Kurtis-Kraft. To supplement their income they opened the Justice Brothers Race Car & Fabrication shop in Glendale, California. Working for Kurtis-Kraft during the day and at their own shop during the night and weekends. Around the clock they were either building new racecars or repairing wrecked ones. While working at Kurtis-Kraft Ed convinced Zeke with the idea to use Dzus fasteners to hold the body panels on ‘Bullet’ Joe Garson’s midget. An idea that had it’s roots in Ed’s formal training as a aircraft mechanic (AME). This would be the first use of Dzus fasteners on a racecar, which would catch on quickly.
As Kurtis’ reputation grew from his involvement with the Indy 500 and championship winning midgets, so too did the Justice Brothers. In 1950 they won the Indy 500 with Johnny Parsons. They came back and collected a second place finish at the Indy 500 in 1952 with Jim Rathman.
During the end of the 1940’s they had relocated from California to Florida. This move came at a very opportune time in the history of stock car racing. As they were building their oil business and adding customers daily. One customer that shared their love of racing was a fellow named Bill France. Bill was a owner/operator of an Amoco Service Station in Daytona Beach at that time. This early meeting would prove important later when Bill was starting NASCAR and connected with the Justice Brothers who had become known sponsors of stock car racing. Thus was how the Justice Brothers became the first sponsors in NASCAR.
The Justice Brothers ended up sponsoring early NASCAR legends like the Flock Brothers; Fonty Bob & Tim, Red Byron, Lee Petty, Buck Baker, Ed Samples, Joe Eubanks, Rex White, Buckshot Morris, Herb Thomas, Johnny Thompson, Frank Mundy, Johnny Mantz, Buddy Shuman, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Jack Smith, and numerous others.
Justice Brothers supported drivers and teams won the first NASCAR race on Daytona Beach, the first 500 mile NASCAR race; the Southern 500, and the first NASCAR championship. The winning by Justice Brothers supported teams in NASCAR continues to this day. The company, the Justice Brothers themselves and Ed Justice, Jr. were recently honored to be inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
During their time in Florida they sponsored noted boat racers, legendary motorcycle racers during the Daytona SPEED WEEK and the early Sport Car competitors.
They went on to become the first paid sponsors of drag racing legend Don Garlits.
No matter the form of racing, Justice Brothers record for unending support is unmatched in the sport. In a world of fabricated history and hype, Justice Brothers is the real deal.
The Justice Brothers at the 1946 Indianapolis 500. Left to right, Zeke, Ed and Gus.