It is with great sadness that we share information on the passing of Nick Arias Jr., founder of Nick Arias Jr. Racing Components, yesterday morning, January 2, 2017. Arias was presented with lifetime achievement awards from the California Hot Rod Reunion and NHRA in 2000. He was inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame in 2005. The SEMA Hall of Fame came knocking on the door in 2012 and Arias was inducted to the very manufacturing group that he played a large part in helping establish.
We last talked to Nick Arias Jr. in June at a celebration of life event for his long-time friend and business associate Louie Senter. It was obvious that Arias was struggling with some health issues, but his dedication to an old friend, along with his devotion to the hot rod community, would not allow the legendary speed maker to miss the opportunity to pay tribute to another automotive legend.
“Louie offered to sell me his piston division,” said Arias, “He told me that if it wasn’t making money, he’d buy it back. Who does that these days?” Neither Arias or Senter had to worry because Arias Pistons went on to become one of the favorite high performance companies for hot rodders.
Arias graduated Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles, where a highlight was starting a car club with a couple of friends. He joined the 40th California National Guard and shipped out to Korea where he worked in the motor pool during the Korean war. Returning home, Arias focused on dry lake racing, winning a championship in the Russetta Timing Association’s Class A and B coupe class, setting records along the way.
He joined the Screwdriver’s Car Club of Culver City, a group that featured some of the top drivers and builder of the time; Craig Breedlove, Don Rackeman, Lou Baney, and Joe Pisano. Rackeman and Baney both worked for Louie Senter, which eventually led Arias Jr. to the speed master’s shop.
Working at Wayne Manufacturing, Arias Jr. was able to get hands on learning about designing cylinder heads and pistons, components that he would become known for.