Recalling Sig Erson: the rise of an unusual mind

Recalling Sig Erson: the rise of an unusual mind

This story languished for a month, at least; materials revealing the timeless technique of racing camshaft development seemed uncomfortably far away. Then Californian Lyle Larson, the accomplished former drag racer, emerged with illuminating experiences from the nineteen sixties and seventies that we feared had been lost. Two weeks later, we found Steve Tanzi near Lake Tahoe with a further treasure trove of material, turning possibility into reality during the 1990s and early years of this century. More recently, Jack McInnis discovered some wonderfully evocative printed materials and photographs that illustrate much of what has long been relevant to hot rodders and motor racers and like-minded persons.     By Sam Logan.   Five and a half decades ago, in 1963, the shop foreman at Isky Racing Cams in Los Angeles departed to form his own camshaft company. He called it Sig Erson Racing Cams. He orchestrated its agenda, and he led its pursuits until he sold it in 1982. In business, his central aim was inextricably linked to the tricky concept of keeping his customers and distributors happy. In outdoor activities, Erson was unusually adventurous and in practical terms, particularly in surviving the austerity of desert life, he was unsurpassed. In his youth, there were periods when he lived on the beach by himself and could readily sleep beneath the night skies unperturbed. In Mexico’s austere landscapes, both mountainous and arid, he would embark alone on an entire Baja 1000 pre-race reconnaissance. In spending his nights in the barren wilderness, he was undismayed by the threat of being stranded or perishing on the vast, silent desert soil or alarmed...