Ted Dzus Jr. known affectionately as “The Quarter Turn Man” who took a product, typically known as a cam locking fastener, but commonly known as the “Dzus Fastener” from the aircraft industry and into the motorsports and custom automotive arenas.
The Dzus Fastener was the brainchild of Ted’s grandfather, William a Ukrainian immigrant engineer who worked for a long island aircraft company in the 1930s. Developed to secure aircraft body panels which were loosening and rattling the fastener was deceptively simple, using a spring wire and a button shaft machine to accept the spring into an over center-locking fastener, which required only a quarter of a turn to lock or unlock. Following World War II Army and Navy aircraft mechanics remembered this straightforward strong easy-use fastener and adapted it to the race car market. The first recorded use in motorsports was by famed Justice Brothers (Ed and Zeke) in California on a Kurtis-Kraft midget oval track car.
Working for his grandfather and father at the company in the 1960s Ted Jr’s love for automotive performance help expand the company’s market horizons outside the aircraft industry. Ted Dzus Sr. became president of Dzus Fasteners in 1964 after his father’s death and Ted Junior assumed control in 1982.
The idea of using the Dzus Fastener spread into drag racing when drag racers like Don Garlits and others used the fastener was marketed by the Mr. Gasket and Moroso companies. They became “must use” items to quickly secure body panels which were often removed to access the engine and driveline for service in almost all forms of motorsports. He promoted the use of his “magic buttons” on his own drag race cars (a 1973 Vega, 1980 Chevette, and 1955 Chevy), plus a 1951 Mercury and a 1951 Kaiser Henry J cutting-edge street rods.
Ted Junior also developed variants for engine valve cover retainers, radiator hose clamps, battery clamps, and hood pins. Outside the automotive and aerospace industry Dzus Fasteners extended into the medical hardware market. Ted Jr created a version of the fastener that is used to repair complex long bone fractures.