Crane Cams Founder Harvey J. Crane Jr. Passes Away

It is with deep sorrow we announce the passing of Harvey J. Crane, Jr. Mr. Crane passed from this life peacefully on May 31st, 2013. 

Harvey JCrane’s career and life in the industry began officially on January 1, 1953, with the formation of Crane Engineering Company. His involvement in the hobby aspects of motorsports actually began several years earlier. Crane became interested in engines and racing at a young age and growing up working in his father’s machine shop he learned how to make accurate, repeatable parts, which he applied to modifying and building race cars and engines.

Crane’s engines quickly gained a reputation for power and reliability, yet it was his interest in increasing power through camshafts that led Harvey to purchase his first aftermarket camshaft. That first cam, bought from an unnamed California company, proved to be all he had hoped it would be. When he ordered three more exactly like it with varying results that launched Harvey into grinding his own camshafts.

Crane checked the first camshaft, all 16 lobes and recorded the data. When he checked the lobes on the second order, he surprisingly found that not one of the subsequent cams was the same as that first. It was then that he knew that the machinist’s training he received at an early age would allow him to make accurate, repeatable racing camshafts.

Soon after that he began to make more powerful, accurate, and consistently repeatable camshafts for racing engines. Within a short time, Crane gave up his engine building business to focus entirely on camshafts.


By 1967, Crane was the largest producer of aftermarket camshafts in the country, displacing Isky Cams. In 1974, they acquired the Universal Camshaft Company of Muskegon, Michigan, and soon relocated all of the combined operations to Daytona. Crane employed around 500 people, supplying not only the aftermarket, but also acting as an OEM supplier to such companies as heavy equipment maker, Caterpillar. All the while, Crane continued to supply winning cars on the drag strips and circle tracks around the country.

After stepping down as president and CEO in 1977 to concentrate on camshaft and valvetrain design, Crane began divesting his holdings in the company to an employee stock ownership trust.

Harvey Crane, Jr. did not stop working in the aftermarket automotive sector, however. He operated Harvey Crane, Inc. as a consultant until the very last day. Sharing his advice on camshafts and occasionally operating his design school for those interested in learning his secrets, as well as getting access to the custom cam-design software he helped create. His original company, Crane Cams,  survives too – growing again with new ownership. A true pioneer – Crane will be remembered and missed by all.

About the author

Bobby Kimbrough

Bobby grew up in the heart of Illinois, becoming an avid dirt track race fan which has developed into a life long passion. Taking a break from the Midwest dirt tracks to fight evil doers in the world, he completed a full 21 year career in the Marine Corps.
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