Sunday, August 11, 2013

Alec Harrell Carlson's Online Portfolio

A word or so about Alec  

Alec Harrell Carlson first became interested in automobiles when he was 11 years old. He and his grandfather paid a visit to the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) in El Segundo, CA. He knew within minutes that the world of automobiles was his place. He asked the docent/tour-guide, how old you have to be in order to be a decent. The docent checked and within two weeks, Alec was the museum’s youngest decent ever (this life altering event took place in August 2007). Around the same time, Alec began to get interested in his family history in the Southern California hot rod culture. It’s fairly safe to say, Alec has yet to meet an automobile he doesn’t like. Part of his love affair with automobiles is told in the following sections:

Items About Alec,
Alec's Activities,
Items By Alec.

Items About Alec

(To enlarge the images below, click on them.)

January 2008: featured in Skinned Knuckles

One of the first items taking note of Alec working with automobiles is found in the photo and caption below.

(From Skinned Knuckles: A Journal of Car Restoration, vol. 32.  no. 6 January 2008.)

August 2008: Recognized as a docent/tour-guide by the Automotive Calendar of Events

By the time Will Owen (Managing Editor of Automotive Calendar of Events) paid a visit to the Automobile Driving Museum doing research for a feature article, Alec had already been giving tours for about a year and was pretty good at it. This is noted in the photo and accompanying caption.

(From: Automotive Calendar of Events, August 2008, pp. 22-23.)

April 2010: Alec’s First Car Spotlighted byHotRodHot

This feature commemorates Alec taking possession of his first car in the "World's Largest Online Rodding Magazine".

"We just love it when the Hot Rodding tradition is carried on through generations ... so when we got this article on Alec Harrell Carlson we were really excited.  Alec R. Harrell Carlson, turned 14 last month and he, along with his grandparents, just bought his first car— a 1937 Ford Tudor. Alec began to get serious about cars at a young age. For instance, when he was 11, at his own initiative, he asked management at the El Segundo, CA Automobile Driving Museum if he could become a docent...."
(, Newsletter, April 29, 2010.)



Spring 2012: Interview by Jeff Walker, Executive Director, ADM


The following photo and interview are from the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM) and featured in the ADM Quarterly, Spring 2012, p. 18. 

Interview: Alec Carlson, ADM docent.

Jeff Walker had a few questions for the Automobile Driving Museum's (ADM) youngest docent, Alec Carlson.

JW: How old are you?

AC: I am 16.

JW: How, when and why did you become a Docent at the ADM?

AC: I first became a docent in March of 2007, about 5 years ago. I heard about it in a newspaper that my grandmother was reading. We dropped by to check it out and I started coming back every weekend until I knew enough about the cars to ask if I could become a docent. Thank god everyone liked me and took me in under their wings. So I signed the papers and have been hanging around since.

JW: What are your plans after High School?

AC: I am planning on going to college after high school. I’d like to be a writer for and with any luck eventually the editor for Hot Rod magazine. I haven’t the foggiest idea what the qualifications are but I think that would be an ideal job for me. I couldn’t be happy in any other line of work outside of cars.

JW: How did you get interested in classic cars?

AC: Cars are in my family’s blood. We have been racing and building engine equipment since the early 1930’s. I always had the interest but never knew what I was looking at until I discovered the museum. I owe the ADM for 90% of what I know. It’s so diverse in its inhabitants I have learned things about almost everything on wheels–Hot Rods and stock cars.

JW: What will you be driving when you get your Driver’s license next month? Got any pictures?

AC: Once I have my license (coming up in about 3 weeks) I will most likely be driving my 1937 ford. People think I’m crazy for driving an old car like that every day but my opinion is… what were they built to do? Sit? DEFINITELY NOT. I trust that car to take me around the world.

JW: How do you get to the ADM without a license?

AC: Because I don’t have my license yet, I have been driven there every single time by my very supportive granddad. He is the reason I am able to do what I do and have the things that I have. Namely my car and a place to put it.

JW: Do you read Hot Rod or Car Craft Magazines?

AC: I buy and read every Hot Rod magazine I possibly can and glue myself to them for hours. I find Hot Rod magazine to be informative and amusing. It is casually and comfortably written. This isn’t a surprise though, I mean it’s written by car guys.

JW: Collect Hot Wheels? What is your favorite one?

AC: Being a boy it’s only natural that I have many boxes full of Hot Wheels cars. I’m not sure that I could pick a favorite. All I can say is that I love the ones that I actually see on the road.

JW: What’s it like being the youngest docent at the ADM?

AC: I have gotten a wide variety of reactions when visitors see me for the first time as their tour guide. When I was younger a lot of people were hesitant to go with me because they just assumed I didn’t know anything and it made the place look unprofessional. I always got a kick out of proving them wrong. Now people are relieved to see that there is in fact someone in my generation who is devoted to keeping these cars and their history alive for decades to come. There aren’t many people out there who care about these cars anymore. For kids it’s all about video games, which frankly is pretty sad.
610 Lairport Street • El Segundo, CA 90245 • Tel. (310) 909-0950.

May 24, 2013: Alec & His '37 Featured in His School Newspaper

(Mira Costa High School newspaper, La Vista)


August 1, 2013: Alec & His '37 in Photo Essay

 From Petrolicious: Classic Car Videos and Photo Essays

 This 1937 Ford Is a High School Hauler
by Sean Lorentzen / 1 Aug 2013
Photography by Sean Lorentzen (use link above for more photos)


"Alec Harrell-Carlson is not your average 17 year old. When the average 17-year-old guy wants to look cool in the high school parking lot, he borrows Dad’s new 3-series. Alec, on the other hand, spent years meticulously restoring a 1937 Ford Sedan for the same purpose. In short, Alec gets it.
It really shouldn’t be a surprise, however, as his family’s been involved with Southern California hot rodding since its early days, and his grandfather [sic. Great Grand Uncle Jim Harrell] owned the famous “Winged Express” modified dragster [sic. Altered roadster ] in the mid-‘60s. Alec himself keeps that automotive family legacy alive, and it extends far beyond just his Ford. He restores vintage radios in his spare time, works as a mechanic’s assistant at an aircraft museum, and gives tours of the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo, California. His technical passion certainly shows through in his ’37.
This Ford is one of the cleanest near-stock ‘37s in SoCal, one of a few not to fall into the clutches of hot rodders and customizers over the decades. Alec has kept the car almost entirely factory fresh, and the modifications he has made only help this car’s period cool. A hydraulic conversion for the old cable braking system was almost a requirement for a car of this age, and the two-inch front drop springs give it a perfect stance, neither too high nor too aggressive. Meanwhile, out back, the original Ford mufflers have been replaced with vintage Smithy glass packs, giving the throaty cackle of the flathead V8 a little extra bite. Meanwhile, the interior is nearly all original, with the upholstery in particular still standing after 76 years. All in all, it’s a terrific attention-getter.
There’s something incredible about driving a flathead Ford, and this particular car demonstrates it perfectly. It’s not a fast car—to be honest, it’s anything but. It’s not particularly luxurious, or refined, or comfortable. It doesn’t blow your mind through the corners, and driving it in fast traffic can be straight-up terrifying. With all that said, it’s still one of my all-time favorite drives, for the simple reason that driving an early V8 Ford reminds me (perhaps more than any other car) that I am piloting a living, breathing machine. Everything I see, everything I touch, and everything I hear has texture. It’s an supremely tactile experience that newer, more refined cars seem to hide from their drivers. There’s an absolute symphony of mechanical noise every time I pull away from a stoplight or round a corner. The engine itself crackles and growls as it climbs the stubby rev range. Not violently—just enough to remind me it’s there. The transmission whirrs softly as the worn synchro slides into second. The seat springs groan in protest as I take a corner a little too hard, and the giant Bakelite wheel shudders to let me know I'm taking things too seriously.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg, really. There are ten thousand little sounds, smells, and tactile sensations that accompany this car on a drive. I would expect it to get annoying, but it never does. It just deepens the connection between the machine driven by oil and gears and pistons; and the one driven by blood, nerves, and the occasional ham sandwich.

If the idea of all these little noises and feelings doesn’t appeal to you, fine. There are plenty of cars out there for you, and almost all of them make better day-to-day commuters than the ’37 Ford from a purely pragmatic perspective. But for some of us, there’s no substitute."




Alec's Activities

(To enlarge the images below, click on them.)

 December 16, 2007: Alec Conducting Tours At The ADM, at the age 11

In The Previous Section, we described how and when Alec became a Docent at the Automobile Driving Museum (ADM).

Alec's fascination with the Model T Ford developed early in his career as a docent and he was always eager to pass it on during his tours. 

2008 : Alec Helps Celebrate The 100th Anniversary of Henry Ford's Model T

 At The 100 year anniversary of Ford's Model T, The Model T Club of Long Beach, CA sponsored a Southern California Show. Alec was invited to help provide demonstrations, etc. He is pictured below describing the fabulous features of Henry Ford's creation to the young and old alike.


 May 30, 2009: Book Signing at Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, CA

A Casual Get Together and Book Signing
A New Book That Takes Us On
Autobooks-Aerobooks, Burbank, CA
May 30, 2009 between 10: & 2:00

Alec listens intently as Pat Berardini of The Berardini Brothers Racing Team of the 1950s relates stories of his racing experiences.

 September 13, 2009: Alec Was Invited To Serve & Protect At The 2009 Palos Verde Concours d'Elegance

Alec's duties as a Field Steward at the 2009 Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance included "guiding and directing the Exhibition Vehicles" to their assigned display areas. He is pictured below (in the white shirt) guiding arrivals to their proper locations. 

 His duties also required him to watch over the cars in the American Customs Class through out the day.

Alec also found time to explain some of the special features on a car or two to a couple of visiting auto journalists.

He managed to take a photo-op with his personal pick of the show--an elegant 1956 Lincoln Continental Mark II.


May 6, 2012: Alec Judging At The Edelbrock "Revved Up 4 Kids Car Show"

This charity car show is an annual event to benefit and educate complex children.
Alec was invited to help judge some very spectacular cars at the 2012 Edelbrock Show in Torrance California. He teamed with Joe Risk to judge three classes: "Best Ford Vehicle, Best Junkyard Dog, and Best Truck." 

As usual, this sprawling annual event attracted quite a variety of automobiles and a large crowd.


At the end of a seemingly long and definitely hot and stressful day, Alec's first experience judging a major auto show is complete.


June 2, 2012: Alec Judging At The Annual El Segundo Education Foundation Benefit Car Show

Alec was invited to judge the entries at the 5th Annual Benefit Car Show benefiting the El Segundo Education Foundation. At this event, he teamed with Jerry Mull to judge the "Hot Rods & Customs Class".

Alec also entered his blue 1937 Ford (3rd from left) to benefit the Education Foundation as did other proud owners.

May 5, 2013: Alec Judging At The Edelbrock "Revved Up 4 Kids Car Show"

Alec was invited to be a returning judge at the 8th annual Charity Car Show at the Edelbrock facitity in Torrance California. This charity car show is an annual event to benefit and educate complex children.

He teamed with Henry Arredondo to judge the "Early Fords Class." This event is typically well attended by very discerning car enthusiasts.


September 15, 2013: Palos Verde Concours d'Elegance

Alec was selected to be a member of the Automobile Driving Museum's team to chauffeur and manage several classic cars for the 21st Annual Palos Verdes Concours d'Elegance.

His special responsibilities included watching over Stanley Zimmerman's 1936 Packard and safely driving it back to the museum after the event. This white Packard is in the personal collection of Mr. Zimmerman, the founder of the Automobile Driving Museum.

Of course, Alec found time to visit all the classes of automobiles, which included the "Vintage American Speed 1932-1952 Class." This offered him the opportunity to explain the nature of his favorite 1932 Ford roadster that has been preserved in a period-correct, 1950s hot rod.

Items By Alec

(To enlarge the images below, click on them)


2009: Alec Co-produced Harrell Engines & Racing Equipment

Alec was research assistant, on the first edition of Harrell Engines & Racing Equipment throughout 2008 and '09, as well as the second edition in 2012. His contributions included historical research, interviewing historical figures in the world of land speed racing, scanning & processing photographs in private collections, as well as editing.
For more information see:


Summer 2012: Piece For The ADM Quarterly

Alec was invited to write a feature for the museum's quarterly journal giving his perspective on the changes taking place at the ADM. He contributed the following.

 June 14, 2013: Alec's Feature On Students At The ADM

One of Alec's first contributions to his high school newspaper after joining the staff was intended to encourage young people to take an interest in classic and antique automobiles. He focused on two young docents he helped train at the Automobile Driving Museum.
(Mira Costa High School weekly newspaper, La Vista)


 September 15, 2013: Contributing Writer for the Concours d'Elegance Program

 Alec was asked to be a Contributing Writer for the 2013 Palos Verdes Concourse d'Elegance program. His task was to co-author an introduction for the special "Vintage American Speed 1932-1952 Class." The article was to provide an overview of the class for land speed racing enthusiasts as well as for those attendees who came to appreciate the grand collection of classic automobiles (the non-hot rodders).

Alec Harrell Carlson and Roger H. Harrell's contribution to the Program follows.


September 27, 2013: Alec's Feature On College Counselors
As Staff Writer for Mira Costa High School newspaper, Alec wrote the following article for La Vista.