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

Things were even more radically different at the stern of a Galaxie stock car. Holman & Moody removed the rear crossmember completely on each of the Galaxies they built in 1965 to make way for a meatier sheetmetal replacement. That new frame member featured mounts for the upper pair of control arms in the trick four-trailing-arm, Watt's link-controlled rear suspension that was part of the package for 1965. New spring perches with jackscrew-adjusted coil springs and a quartet of shock mounts rounded out the sophisticated, fully adjustable rear suspension.

Full floating hubs were added to the reinforced Ford 9-inch rear axles. And, in a first for the NASCAR series, double-splined axles were used to make the wheels go round and round reliably for 500 miles. Full metallic brake shoes were used in the rear, too--11x2-inch shoes were used for superspeedways and 11x3½-inch for the short tracks and road courses. Holman & Moody mechanics also re-welded all factory frame and body welds for strength and relieved the frame for rear tire clearance before reinstalling the bodies.

Power was provided by Ford's all-new 427ci FE Medium Riser big-block V-8 engine. As was policy in NASCAR in those days, a stock car's engine was supposed to be, ahem, stock. {{{Chrysler}}}'s 426ci Hemi was banned by NASCAR for 1965. One of the reasons for that decision (beyond politics) was that the Hemi was not available in a street-going production car. Ford's 427ci High Riser heads were axed for the same reason for 1965.

While Chrysler's response to the new rule was to boycott the series in a funk, Ford decided to step up and build a fleet of regular production 427 Medium Riser inducted 427 Galaxies. That all-new engine featured the now fabled Side Oiler block casting, which priority-channeled an abundant oil supply to the 427's main journals. Durability was commensurately improved thanks to new capscrew LeMans connecting rods. They rotated on a cross-drilled forged steel crankshaft. A single-bowl Holley 4150 and special dual-plane intake manifold provided an atomized mixture to 12.0:1 compression chambers. Racing Galaxies sent spent particulates through tubular steel headers and unmuffled 3-inch dump tubes. Ram air was provided by a special Holman & Moody derived "bat wing" air cleaner, which collected high-pressure air at the cowl.

In race-ready trim, a '65 Holman & Moody 427 could be counted on to produce 500 hp. When this raw horsepower was channeled to sticky Firestone 8.00/8.20 gumballs via a Top Loader four-speed and the 9-inch rear mentioned earlier, the estimated grunt turned in speeds of 175 mph at Daytona. This top speed is made all the more impressive by the indisputable fact that a '65 Galaxie is about as aerodynamic as an average, everyday brick hot from the kiln.

Race car ergonomics were spartan in 1965. A single factory bucket seat, a rudimentary rollcage, and a complement of analog gauges housed in a special Holman & Moody dash insert is about all the drivers had. A factory Ford shifter and stock, roll-up, tempered glass windows remained in place. One trick safety piece Holman & Moody came up with was a military-style inertia reel shoulder harness that allowed drivers some mobility during races. In a direct response to Fireball Roberts' fiery and fatal crash, Holman & Moody experimented with on-board fire suppression. Early in the season, Holman & Moody used carbon dioxide (CO2) systems copped from the engine nacelles of large Douglas Commercial passenger planes. Later in the season, all team cars were converted to dry powder fire suppression using Ansul "Purple K" extinguishers designed for restaurant use.

Chrysler followed Ford's lead for 1966 and finally built a "regular production" 426 Hemi street car. In response, Ford renewed its quest to campaign the radical single overhead cam version of the 427 that corporate engineers had begun working on in 1964. Big Bill France was not all that happy with the idea and ultimately decided to only permit that engine's use in the Galaxie car line. Worse yet, if raced, a 427 SOHC engine would have been saddled with a rules-mandated 200-pound weight penalty. Late in 1965, Holman & Moody driver Fred Lorenzen tested the viability of that particular combination at Daytona. When it was determined that a SOHC Galaxie would be uncompetitive against Hemi-powered Dodge and Plymouth intermediate race cars, Ford decided to boycott the NASCAR Grand National Series shortly after the 1966 season began.

Few races were contested by 1966 Galaxie stock cars as a direct result of that political decision at Ford. When Ford decided to lift the factory ban late in the 1966 season, most Ford team drivers then campaigned smaller, slippery "half chassis" intermediate Fairlanes (that Bill France permitted as a concession to end the boycott). And so came the end of big 427 Galaxie stock car racing. In 2009, just five of the '65-'66 Galaxie stock cars Holman & Moody built are known to survive.