Jim Smart
April 1, 2009
Photos By: Dr. John Craft

{{{Ford}}}'s challenges in stock car racing are well publicized. It has never been easy for Ford to win, let alone compete. It has always been a fierce political game both on and off the track. After withdrawing from NASCAR competition in 1957, Henry Ford II decided it was time for Ford to get back on the track and become competitive in 1961. Once the decision was made to get back into factory-backed stock car racing, those first phone calls went out to the Holman & Moody race shop in Charlotte, North Carolina.

At the time, Ford's weapon of choice in stock car racing was the fullsize Galaxie, those big behemoths packing big-block power approaching 50 years ago. Although these battlewagons seem quite large by today's standards, their chassis weren't much different from what we have today within the average stock car. In fact, it pretty much set the standard by which most stock cars to follow were built.

Holman & Moody had been building Galaxie race cars on an independent basis when the call came from Mr. Ford. Those early Galaxie race cars were powered by the Ford FE series big-block engine in various incarnations between 352 and 390 ci. Things heated up considerably in the power production kitchen in 1963 when Ford's engineering guys began casting a hogged out evolution of the FE that displaced 427 ci. A fleet of '63 Galaxie fastbacks dominated Daytona that year--then they went on to steal headlines for the rest of the season. Chrysler countered the new 427ci Low Riser engines of 1963 with a race-only hemi-head 426ci big-block of its own in 1964, which wasn't available to the public--and Bill France Sr. let it run. Ford teams were allowed to campaign equally non-production 427ci High Riser engines. While Richard Petty stole headlines at Daytona in 1964, the High Riser Galaxies still won the majority of the Grand National races that year. Ford loved the taste of victory and just had to have more.

Ford ordered 20 Grand National NASCAR Galaxies from Holman & Moody for the 1965 season. Fifteen dedicated '65s and three dedicated 1966 Galaxies were ultimately built in response to that directive. Those cars represented a high-water mark for Galaxies in stock car competition. Dan Gurney won the season opener at Riverside, California, in a Wood Brothers-prepared, Holman & Moody-built 427 Galaxie. Fred Lorenzen roared up in Victory Lane in his white No. 28 factory team Galaxie at Daytona less than a month later at the 500 and went on to score four more Grand National wins at Charlotte, North Carolina, and Martinsville, Virginia. Ned Jarrett dominated the field at the Southern 500 with his Holman & Moody-built No. 11 Galaxie in August and finished a full 15 laps ahead of the Second-Place finisher. Legendary Junior Johnson, then rookie Dick Hutcherson, grizzled NASCAR veteran Curtis Turner, and other Ford pilots went on to win a phenomenal 49 out of 55 races in 1965. Faithful Ford followers remember 1965 as a banner year in stock car racing. At the season wrap-up, Ned Jarrett was the 1965 Grand National champion and Ford held the NASCAR crown in one of Ford's most incredible seasons ever.

The stock cars that Fast Freddie, Junior, Hutch, Curtis, and Ned counted on to win in 1965 ironically all rolled off Ford's Norfolk, Virginia, assembly line. Each of these Galaxies had been assembled to "body-in-white" level by UAW workers at Norfolk. That was a significant difference from proceeding years when the Galaxies Holman & Moody modified had started life (in 1963 as 1964) as regular-production, 427-powered factory automobiles. For example, the 15-odd Galaxies built by Holman & Moody had all started life as "Q" engine code, single four-barrel 427 cars on the Norfolk line. Holman & Moody modified 20 or so Galaxies in 1964, and those cars were all R-code, eight-barrel 427 factory cars.

Once body-in-white '65s were inside Holman & Moody's North Carolina facilities, these cars were separated from their Ford frames and modifications for stock car racing were made in earnest. New front coil spring perches with jackscrew adjusters were installed. Heavy-duty mounting brackets for upper control arms were installed next, which were modified to make quick caster and camber adjustments. Four tubular shock towers, a Holman & Moody sway bar, and heavily modified control arms were also incorporated. Wrist-thick Holman & Moody spindles, meaty forged hubs, and full metallic drum brakes rounded out the front suspension system. For long tracks like Darlington, Charlotte, and Daytona, special 11x3-inch full metallic drum brakes were used. Beefier 11x3½-inch stoppers were used at Riverside and Martinsville, where brakes were at a premium.