Sunday, June 5, 2016

We lost two automotive giants 

The automotive world recently lost two giants- Louis Senter and Joe Moriarty.

Louis Senter one of the founding members of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) and a  SEMA Hall of Fame Hall of Fame member died Saturday, May 28 at age 95. Senter got his start by building and modifying engines for midgets and other forms of oval-track racing.

Senter opened his own machine shop on Crocker Street in downtown Los Angeles called Senter Engineering. After moving the business to Jefferson Boulevard in 1947, he took on Jack Andrews as a partner. The new partnership also brought a name change from Senter Engineering to Ansen Automotive Engineering—a combination of Andrews and Senter—and was one of the first true speed shops in the city, according to Senter. There, Senter developed a lightened, balanced and polished Ford flathead crankshaft kit. The firm sold complete engines, which were shipped for the most part to National Association of Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) drivers in the southern states.

In late October of 1950, after Senter became the sole owner of Ansen Automotive, the company expanded again into a building on Normandie Boulevard in Los Angeles. During the ensuing years, a number of automotive icons worked there, including Lou Raney, Ed Pink and Jim Kavanaugh.

In the early ’60s, Ansen Automotive moved to a building constructed specifically for the business on Western Avenue in Gardena, California. The company’s catalog grew to more than 100 pages and featured hundreds of parts, including forged pistons and forged-steel rods, aluminum connecting rods and a safety bell housing that became compulsory at all dragstrips. The piston department was later sold to Nick Arias, who is still making pistons today, and the rod department was sold to Miller Rods.

In 1963, Senter and other manufacturers formed an organization known as the Speed Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA), today known as the Specialty Equipment Market Association. Senter said that the organization was designed to formulate safety standards in the high-performance industry and organize the manufacturers for representation in Washington, D.C., to keep SEMA informed about legislation being introduced that might affect the industry.

Senter began to pull back from the business in 1969, selling to the Whittaker Corporation. Senter stayed with Ansen until 1974 and then became a consultant for W.R. Grace, which included Appliance Industries, Mr. Gasket, Lakewood and Hickey. In 1978, Louis Senter was inducted into the SEMA Hall of Fame. Senter continued to develop wheel products and companies over the next few years but eventually retired for good. He was named to the Hot Rod Magazine Hall of Fame in 1997, received a Western Racing Association award for his 50-year contribution to racing in 1998 and was named to the Dry Lakes Hall of Fame in 1999.

Maurice Joseph Moriarty “Joe” Moriarty the founder of Total Seal Piston Rings lost his battle with heart disease and passed away on Tuesday June 1, 2016, at his home in Phoenix Arizona. Born in 1928 in Indian Orchard, Massachusetts, Moriarty was a prolific inventor, holding several patents on piston rings, including Total Seal’s Gapless and Diamond Finish rings.
Moriarty started Total Seal Piston Rings in 1967 and the company saw tremendous growth over the last several years, producing some of the most advanced steel ring manufacturing capabilities available today. Joe was inducted into the Motorsports Parts Manufacturers Council (MPMC) Hall of Fame at the 2014 PRI Trade Show in Indianapolis. Moriarty leaves behind his wife of 48 years, Donna, eight children and  17 grandchildren. His namesake, Joey Moriarty, will continue to run Total Seal Piston Rings in Phoenix.
Information and photographs for this article provided by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)

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