HISTORY OF IONIA HOT RODS
Pulled from the pages of Street Rodder Magazine:
"Dennis Lesky and I first crossed paths in 1994 at the Hot Rod Homecoming in Indianapolis, an event that was held in conjunction with the 40th. NHRA U.S. Nationals. Dennis had parked his chopped '32 sedan next to the track's original timing tower. Back then, patina wasn't the rage, but with its faded paint and "Regret" emblazoned on the doors in big, bold letters, the appeal of the former B/Gas drag race car in that setting---along with its owner's great outlook on the hobby-were undeniable. So, Tex Smith and I decided to feature them in the magazine we were doing at the time, Hot Rod Mechanix.
Over the years, Dennis and I would run into each other at various events, and each time it seemed he was involved with another unique project. Generally, it was something understated---a car you almost had to concentrate on to really appreciate. Dennis' unique style was certainly developing; his technique was largely based on his ability to make modified parts and scratch-built components that had a factory-manufactured look to them. The fit, finish and quality of everything he did was outstanding, yet nothing looked out of place when his additions were integrated with what had come down the assembly line decades before.
Perhaps this no-nonsense approach can be traced to his background. As Dennis tells it, he was too small for basketball as a kid, and couldn't hit a baseball, so his mother introduced him to model cars. Thanks to his dad, Dennis was racing go-carts with his brother by the time he was 10 years old, but it was a trip to the 1972 NSRA Street Rod Nationals that really got his creative juices flowing. It wasn't long after that Dennis managed to get the car he had been dreaming of since he was a kid---a '32 Ford Victoria. Ironically, after having someone else build the chassis for that Deuce, Dennis decided he needed to learn to weld so he could build his own rods; that led to a career as a journeyman welder with General Motors. The rest as they say, is history.
After retiring from GM, Dennis launched Ionia Hot Rod Shop with his son Matt. Like his dad, Matt's interest in hot rods began to blossom at an early age, and so did his abilities. Case in point: They still use the belling dies to flare holes that Matt made as a teenager in the Explorer Scout program at GM. Matt's skill continued to grow as he gathered machining experience working in a local tool and die shop; his welding and sheetmetal skills progressed as well while employed at a fabrication shop.
It didn't take long for the father and son team to gain a reputation among street rodders with their contemporary renditions of traditional chassis construction. As an example, rather than installing the run-of-the-mill tubing X-members in their '32 Ford frames, the Lesky approach was to fabricate crossmembers that looked like they belonged with the rails. That super detailed approach to chassis construction has resulted in the opportunity to build several complete cars from the ground up - by Ron Ceridono