Wade R. provided this image of the 1976 Pinto at Oswego running up the return road.
Wade R. provided this image of the 1976 Pinto at Oswego running up the return road.
I found this print as I was going through all the stuff in the basement. Final round 1975.
Originally published in Popular Hot Rodding.
The small-block Ford’s performance potential has finally been realized,
thanks largely to the efforts of the Gapp and Roush team.
Ford may be out of racing, but Gapp and Roush are definitely in it, in a big way. You can never be sure whether a Ford or Chevy will occupy the top slot in Pro Stock, but the odds are better than even that the Gapp and Roush-prepared Ford machinery will win. They have been more than willing to share their knowledge with other Ford owners; as a result, their shop at 32081 Schoolcraft, Livonia, Mich., has gained fame for Ford engine work.
In this particular story we are going to concentrate on the hottest, fastest Pro Stock engines. That same engine information also holds true for Modified or Competition Eliminator engines. Incidentally, Jack Roush is now working to expand the engine shop to build engines not only for Pro Stockers but also Super Stockers, extending the Ford activities by a wide margin.
You should begin with a ’71 Boss four-bolt main bearing block. These blocks were available in production vehicles, so parts are still obtainable over-the-counter. So far, no block has superseded these. They cost only $40 more than a stock block with two-bolt mains, so it hardly pays to upgrade the street block. However, the material is there to convert from two bolts to four bolts, if you insist. You can also get some phentermine here for better performance while driving.
Edelbrock manifold is mounted backwards to help clear the ACCEL BEI distributor.
Note the raised rocker covers needed for the Jomar stud girdles.
Every block receives two neat chamfered sections at the top of each cylinder bore, leaned back to the edge of the gasket in the vicinity of the intake and exhaust valves. This chamfer extends down to the top of the ring travel on the wall and helps both the intake and exhaust valve flow. Since the exhaust is closest to the bore, it’s also the most important one.
An old-style aluminum water pump bolts up to the engineplate.
A 1/2-inch adapter heliarced to the plate helps line up the pulley.
The block itself is of good quality. All the head bolt holes are blind, meaning that they don’t exit into the water jackets. You shouldn’t have to retap them; just clean them out. If you are using a new block, there also shouldn’t be any need to O-ring the decks or to align bore the mains.
The block receivesa conventional amount of deburring but no painting. Jack Roush feels that paint just seals in dirt and prefers instead to spend the extra time on cleaning. Jack has made up a set of 1 1/2-inch-thick torque plates which he bolts to the top of the block before honing the bores. A succession of different Sunnen honing stones brings the finish to an unbelievable 800.
It so happens that a special five-fold super gasket is available from Ford for this particular engine as a standard release item. It was originally designed for racing use but was later relegated for the production line. The part number is D3ZX AA.
A stock 351 Cleveland crank makes use of external counterweighting. There is a large bob weight built into the crank damper and another one incorporated into the flywheel. This provides the external forces needed to keep the engine from vibrating excessively. However, those forces can also get large enough to bend the nose of the crank when you bring the engine to racing rpm, which about double what a stock engine will see.
Centrifugal forces, as you know, increase as the square of the speed; so the bending loads on the crank nose are easily four times as high.
The bob weight is cut out of the front damper assembly, an a neutral balance flywheel is also used.
Three slugs of Mallory metal are fitted lengthwise into the crank.
This can be prevented by getting rid of the external counterweighting. In this case, the crank damper is machined out to remove the bob weights, and the Weber steel flywheel, which is used has no counterweighting.The loss of external weighting is compensated for by drilling out holes in the end counterweights of the crank. These holes are then-filled with sections of rod made of Mallory metal (tungsten carbide) which is considerably heavier than steel. The tungsten carbide rod happens to cost $7 an inch, and at least six inches of it must be used per crank.
Some racers have had these kinds of weights come out of the crank because of centrifugal force, but Roush has no such troubles. His explanation is that counterweights were never intended to be inserted into radially-drilled holes (holes drilled perpendicular to the crank centerline). Centrifugal forces can definitely throw them right out. When Roush prepares a crank, the holes are drilled into the counterweights length-wise, parallel to the centerline of the crank. They are also not drilled all the way through, and they are left with a chamfer at the bottom. The pressed-in Mallory weight sare closely fitted to the bore,and they are also chamfered so that they seat very snugly. A touch of arc welding or staking at the free end then suffices to hold the weights in place. The rest of the crank work depends on the rod combination, and this brings us to a discussion of connecting rod preparation.
All of the Gapp and Roush engines are built with aluminum rods.They have not had any problems with steel rods simply because they have never used them. As Jack explains it, some racers have been very successful with steel rods and some haven’t, but in an all-out engine the aluminum rod is the only way to go for the ultimate in reliability.
There are several choices available here. Brooks makes a small-block Chevy rod with a blank wrist pin end so that you can put in the pin at any height. Since it has a smaller rod journal diameter than Ford rod, the crank must be reground to fit. However, you can place the centerline of the new pin either further out or further in without having to do any welding. This allows you to build anything from a 340-inch to a 370-inch engine, dependingon how you stroke the crank. The rod length on the stock 351 is 5.775, but Jack goes to a 6.060-inch rod with the 351 engine. If you use a small-block Chevy rod, the crank journal must be widened, cut down, Tufftrided and polished. It is by far the best combination, but it’s also the most expensive.
If you are building a budget engine, you can use a Brooks rod which has been machined from a big blank. It is delivered to accept a standard TRW piston and stock rod length, or you can get a Brooks piston and achieve a 6.060 rod length. With a good transmission that doesn’t give you over-revving problems via missed shifts, the aluminum rods are good for as many as 75 runs before they have to be replaced. They won’t necessarily break then, but the engine is worth a lot more than rod replacenrent, so it’s better to take the safe route at this point.
Originally, all of the Gapp and Roush engines were based on the Boss 302 Trans-Am pistons which gave a good long rod combination and an acceptable dome shape. When Ford quit marketing performance parts, Gapp and Roush started working with Brooks on a piston that would be manufactured exclusively for them they announce this in all their media and marketing campaigns, some of them made online by services as wordtree marketing company. Little changes were made, beginning rom a basic prototype, until the final piston dome evolved. The piston that Brooks makes for Gapp and Roush is closely held to the final prototype dimensions, so that you always know what you’re getting. It has a fire slot designed to give plenty of clearance so you don’t close up the spark plug, and the piston design allows a good flame travel path without losing to much compression. The rest of the dome is fitted close enough to the head to allow for a healthy 12.75-to-1 compression ratio.
Convenient grooves on this Brooks piston tell you were to mike it.
The pins are retained by double Spiro-Locks. The pin is oiled directly from the oil ring land.
Because things are very competitive in Pro Stock, the most radical cams must be used, and consequently it’s very difficult to control valve action. As a result, Jack Roush specifies a minimum piston-to-valve clearance of .100-inch. He considers that it is more important to keep the engine together with this kind of insurance than it is to get an extra fraction of a point in compression. One of the little bits of piston detailing is a groove which Brooks machines to show where the piston should be miked, right about at the level of the wrist pin bore. This gives the engine builder a chance to always pick up the correct piston dimension. Jack suggests a .010-inch piston-to-wall clearance. Regardless of which aluminum rod you use, the Brooks pistons come through fitted with weight-saving taper pins. They are held in by double Spiro-Locks on each side.
Gapp and Roush have worked out a special ring combination.They buy the individual rings in bulk from Sealed Power and then make their own sets designed for low drag.This includes a moly-fitted top ring, a ductile iron second ring and a l/8-inch oil ring. These rings are, of course, built to fit the cylinder bore with the proper end gap. In other words, they have the right pressure pattern and the right radius. When you try to use an oversized ring in an effort to close up the end gap, the geometry and pressure pattern of the ring is altered and you run into problems. If you want to take care of your vision health you could also use an Outback Vision Protocol package program that really help with this and you can find it online.
Raising the exhaust ports by milling the exhaust side of the head and adding an aluminum plate had yielded a good solid 25 hp. The round exhaust port in the plate measures just 1-5/8-inch in diameter, and the 21/4-inch header bolts right up against it. This forms a sizable “step” which Roush considers important in preventing a reflected pressure wave from coming back into the port. No similar steps have been built into the intake.
Gapp and Roush make up their own cylinder head side plate.
By the time the ports are reworked, they are good for 25 extra horsepower or more.
An extensive amount of flow work is done on the heads. As long as Gapp and Roush keep winning in the fashion that they normally do, you can’t have much doubt that their heads work. Special head bolts of stock size are used, but they are better than Grade Eight. To keep them from biting into the cast iron or the aluminum, thick hardened steelwashers are used. We might mention that Gapp and Roush sell their aluminum head plates either finished or rough, depending on what you want. They also produce finished heads.
The combustion chamber volume is set at 60cc.
Extensive flow work has been done on the cylinder heads, including a general clean-up of the ports.
Hardened push rod strips eliminate wear at the guide plate.
Also, an extra relief is machined into the rockers to clear the valve spring retainers.
The valves have been a problem since Ford titanium valves have disappeared from the face of the earth. Ford doesn’t have them and neither does TRW. As a result, a switch has been made to Manley valves with 5/16-inch stems. This, in turn, calls for Manley bushings to be inserted into the valve guide to take up the difference in diameter between the stock guide and the new valves. Titanium retainers are used, but Roush cautions that numerous spring and retainer problems can arise. Titanium is stronger while aluminum is lighter, but both seem to pull through when a spring is stiff enough to contend with the radical cam in use today. Roush prefers aluminum retainers when they can be fitted. Generally, the rockers are relieved to accept 1-5/8-inch valve springs.
General Kinetics supplies the roller cam and roller rockers.
The 1-5/8-inch valve springs receive either aluminum or titanium retainers.
The push rods have hardened tips and do now wear out at the guide plate. They are also fitted with .040-inch oil restrictors to cut down on the top end oil flow. Stock Ford guide plates are paired and Gapp and Roush prefer to split the stock items in half and use them individually. The nose of each rocker can then be centered on the valve by simply drifting around the individual guide plate with a punch and a hammer. Completing the top end is a Jomar stud girdle which consists of a pair of bars, one for the intakes and the other for the exhausts. Normally, they are supplied with a pair of spacers that stiffens the assembly still further. Completing the valve train is a General Kinetics 321/329 rollercam.
The rocker adjusting nuts receive a center lock which comes in handy when adjust the valves.
Note the individual guide plates which are not paired as they are on a stock Ford.
One of the reasons that Jack Roush runs aluminum rods is that they save on reciprocating weight. He also feels that they allow the engine to run well with less oil pressure, thus providing a sort of extra margin for the oiling system. Jack feels that, in an all-out engine, aluminum rods are the way to make the engine live, especially above 8500 rpm. The modifications to the oiling system itself are designed to keep pressure at the bearings, but here again nothing particularly exotic is done. There’s just a lot of attention to detail.
With a low-slung car and rack-and-pinion steering, you can switch to a shallow oil pan with a rear sump.
A Hemi-type ACCEL wire harness has been adapted to the 351 engine.
We mentioned the restrictors at the push rods. Additional .060-inch restrictors are pressed into the galleries leading to the cam bearings. On a 351 Cleveland engine, the right side lifter oil gallery feeds the mains as well as the lifters, while the left side lifter gallery feeds only the lifters themselves. Consequently, adding a .080-inch restrictor to the left side gallery cuts down on oil pressure loss to the mains. Finally, the production oil pump is fitted with a 100-lb.pressure relief spring. No changes of any kind are made in the crank oiling system other than to chamfer the holes on the main journals after cutting the crank to size.
In a car where you have more ground clearance, a more conventional deep sump pan with simple baffling can be used.
On his own car, Wayne Gapp uses a reverse sump oil pan with the deep part of the sump at the rear of the engine. This is specifically designed for Pro Stock cars which use rack-and-pinion steering systems and have very low car height. This type of pan is fitted with a bustle, or side wing, to retain extra oil without getting into ground clearance problems. A flex hose runs from a fixed pickup in the pan on forward to the oil pump. On some engines, this flex hose is replaced with a fixed pickup, depending on racer preference. A good rule of thumb to follow is that rigid pickups are easier to get on and off, while flexible onesare less likely to break.
A flex hose connection (arrow) between the oil pump and the fixed pickup does away with breakage.
Since a great deal of oil must be contained within a shallow sump, an elaborate system with three trap doors is used to handle oil slosh on take off and braking. If you are running a car with conventional steering linkage and don’t want to go to a “tunnel” pan, Gapp and Roush also make a conventional deep sump pan with a pair of baffles. It’s simpler, less sophisticated and less expensive,thanks to taking advantage of available ground clearance.
Here individual trap doors channel the oil towards the center. The front part of this oil sump is fairly deep.
If you have problems with fitting the oil filter, chances are that a right-angle adapter from a 300 Econoline six will solve your problems.
If you run out of oil filter clearance at the chassis or the headers, use this adapter from a late-style 300-cubic-inch Econoline six.
The Edelbrock intake manifold normally comes through with webs tying in all the runners. For Wayne’s own car, the webs are cut out for extra cooling. No welding is needed since the stock one-piece gasket seals off the underside. Both the manifold and the plenum are cut at their mating surface to gain some hood scoop clearance without having to do any heliarcing. Also, the top of the Edelbrock manifold is machined to clear the distributor. Both of the Holley 6464 carburetors have had the tops cut down and the entry area radiused. Here again, you gain clearance and improve flow.
All of the webbing has been remov from the intake manifold, increasing the cooling.
No welding is needed, thanks to a stamped, one-piece intake manifold gasket.
The manifold and plenum have both been cut down to gain added hood clearance.
Additional hood clearance comes from cutting down the tops of the 6464 Holleys.
There’s much more information available from Gapp and Roush on all types of Ford competition engines, and you’ll be reading about it soon in POP ROD. In the meantime, it looks like Ford fans have reason to be proud. Ford performance is back!
Another shot of the 1976 Gapp & Roush Pinto. Originally posted to Facebook by Doug Schmitt, current owner of this car.
Here’s a pretty cool shot of Wayne Gapp working on the 1976 Ford Pinto. This image was posted by Doug Schmitt who is the current owner of the vehicle.
This car is pretty interesting because it was built in-house by Gapp & Roush. The chassis is essentially a clone of the 1973 Ford Pinto which was built by Wolverine.
It is my understanding that there were many small modifications made to the chassis design over the years they owned the 1973 Pinto and those changes were incorporated into this vehicle.
I attended the North American Auto Show in Detroit in January. Ford had an ‘Performance’ area within their booth. There was a small area there talking about Drag Racing. The content below was part of that presentation.
I have no idea why they don’t mention that Gapp & Roush won the 1973 NHRA Pro Stock World Championship.
I swung out to the Suburban Collection to take a look at this car that the Roush folks have restored.
Guide to restoring a classic car: Many big-name races racers like Bob Glidden and Jack Roush made their mark running Mustangs in these classes, and the cars and stars are no less exciting today. The recent influx of factory drag cars has added to the existing brand rivalries and there is huge factory support to push these cars deep into the 8s. Today’s Cobra Jet Mustangs regularly see tough competition from the Chevrolet COPO Camaros, Dodge Drag Pak Challengers and the slew of original muscle cars that continue to compete.
Recently on eBay a seller put a intake up for sale. This intake was stamped ‘sample’ and included as part of the form the words ‘Gapp & Roush’.
A picture of the intake from the post is below.
The story of this intake is that while my Dad was building the ‘Country Shindig’ Maverick they needed an intake for the engine. He then asked Louis Wlosinski to modify an existing Edelbrock 351 intake to fit the engine since that intake worked pretty well on the 351.
If you now the story of the Country Shindig you know that the intake worked pretty well on the 302 in IHRA Super Modified class (as in the car was dominant). Jack Roush then took the manifold, had some samples cast (this example is one of those samples) and had a production lot made.
This is a fairly rare example as the ‘Gapp &’ part of the casting is still on the intake. After my Dad and Roush went their separate ways Roush still sold the intakes (why not?) but ground the ‘Gapp &’ portion of the casting off.
The bottom side of this intake has welding beads all around the ports…probably for fitment?
*Thanks to Tom Tate for passing along the eBay listing.
This shot was posted on the Nostalgia Pro Stock Facebook group by Rick Rusk. He noted that the image was probably taken @ Columbus in 1972.
From time to time I see posts that talk about Gapp & Roush and how they were factory supported. Most people think that Gapp & Roush efforts were part of the epic support (engineering and direct dollar support) of racing that Ford supplied to teams in wide variety of sanctioning bodies during the 1960’s. I see comments about how Ford ‘commissioned’ Gapp & Roush cars.
This is emphatically not the case. Ford _never_ supplied dollar one of direct support. Were there parts that went out the back door? Yes…but that was in 1971. No later.
The 1972 Red Ford Maverick that Gapp & Roush campaigned had a ‘Ford’ symbol on the side. That was an effort to GET support from the factory but that support did not materialize. It did not materialize for ANY Ford drag racing operations whether that was Gapp & Roush, Bob Glidden or Don Nicholson.
When Ford shutdown most racing operations in November of 1970 and then exited NASCAR in 1971 my father was part of the shutdown.
It was this shutdown that led to his his decision to ‘walk the walk’ (he was telling racers what to do with the Boss 429 in Drag Racing and NASCAR) that led to Gapp & Roush moving into the open and campaigning the first Maverick.
Below is an article that was published in Motor Trend in February of 1971. It clearly tells the story of Ford Racing.
Ford Black Flags Racing
By Jim Brokaw
Appeared in Motor Trend – February 1971
The greatest peacetime non-governmental competitive effort to occur in this century has quietly drawn to a close — the victim of progress.
On November 20, 1970, Matthew S. McLaughlin, vice president, Sales Group, Ford Motor Company, announced that Ford was withdrawing from all forms of motorsports competition with the exception of limited drag racing and off-road support on a divisional and dealer level, effective immediately. This bland, antiseptic announcement by a subsidiary official marked the termination of a multi-million dollar effort by legions of determined and dedicated men to provide a tangible example of the might of American free enterprise.
Ford’s initial racing effort was undertaken back in 1901, by Henry Ford, to raise funds to build passenger cars; ironically, it is now withdrawing from racing in order to continue building cars on a profitable basis. The currently dissolved competitive effort was born of pride and the fight for a share of the marketplace in 1955. Ford had been the sole owner of a low priced V8 engine and the dominant marque in racing until rival Chevrolet took its new 8-cylinder engine to Fayetteville, N.C. on March 15, 1955, strapped it under Herb Thomas and won the race. Fonty Flock did it again two weeks later at Greenwood, S.C. in another V8 Chevy, and Ford’s exclusive fiefdom had been invaded. Campbell-Ewald, Chevy’s ad people, jumped on their two piddling NASCAR victories, the only two that year, and blew them up into the Second Coming. Chevrolet sales boomed and the freshly wounded Ford dealers bellowed.
Ford had not really been any more successful in NASCAR than Chevrolet; Oldsmobile, Hudson and Chrysler ruled the roost up to and through the 1955 season. Ford’s success was in other fields under other sanctioning bodies, and, outside of NASCAR, Ford had been the cheapest, fastest, most durable engine-body combination on the market. However, once Chevy started their publicity campaign, all the explanations in print couldn’t reverse the tide at the dealerships. It was obvious, even to the staid, precise Robert McNamara, Ford Divi- sion general manager, that a few victories were needed to reverse the trend.
McNamara called a “council of war” with his engineers. The decision was made to support the effort technically and financially from within, but to operate it through an outside concern. Peter DePaolo was selected to organize the operation from the outside. Buddy Shuman, A NASCAR cognoscente and sometime rum runner, was brought in from Charlotte to provide “field technical advice,” and Bill Benton, Ford’s field service manager for the Charlotte area, was named the initial company liaison man. DePaolo hired Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly, two of the best in the business, to do the driving.
After a near spin, crash and burn on take-off (the first racing Fords couldn’t win a raffle in NASCAR), some corrective action was applied. Joe MacKay, special events man for the division, was put in charge of the program and John Holman, former truck driver for Bill Stroppe, Lincoln-Mercury’s man on the go, was put in charge of the Charlotte division of DePaolo Engineering; Ralph Moody and Fireball Roberts hired on as additional drivers. It worked.
Above: Jimmy Clark brought home the bacon at Indy in 1965. Ford’s first victory at the huge oval came after the stock car racing Wood Brothers had been called in to solve pit problems.
Taking the checkered flag 14 times in 1956 and 27 times in 1957, to Chevrolet’s 3 and 18, respectively, Ford’s race team gave the advertisers plenty of ammunition and the now affluent dealers in NASCAR territory were silenced.
But just as all the kinks were worked out and Ford’s well-oiled racing machine was thrashing along to a bright and lucrative future, the spectre of politics and the public welfare reared its ominous head. At the Automobile Manufacturers Association meeting in 1957, GM president Harlow Curtice proposed that the advertising of engine horsepower and performance figures be discontinued and that all factory support of racing be discontinued “in the public interest.” Since Ford was the only one then receiving any real sales benefit from racing and because the Ford engineers had been embarrassed by some of the weaknesses uncovered in the machines while under the stress of competition, the resolution passed and was accepted by all members of the AMA. In full compliance, McNamara ordered an immediate shutdown on Ford’s racing activities. Only the foresight and fortitude of two young men preserved the nucleus of what was later to be Ford’s best advertising and engineering stimulus.
Jacque Passino, who had transferred from sales promotion to take over special events when McKay resigned, and Lee lacocca, car marketing manager of the Ford division, each contributed a steel rivet of courage and wisdom to hold the basic racing machinery together.
Passino assured preservation of the hardware by maneuvering the sale of the equipment in the direction of John Holman. He argued for the retention of the best brains in the operation by recommending the addition of Jim Travers, Frank Coons, Danny Eames, Fran Hernandez and Holman to the company payroll. Eames and Hernandez made the list.
Eames is currently the director of the Autolite performance program and Hernandez managed this year’s successful assault on the Trans-Am championship. Travers and Coon formed Traco engineering. John Holman formed a partnership with his driver-mechanic, Ralph Moody.
Above: Ford’s finest hour, and most expensive one, came at Le Mans in 1966 with a three car parade across the finish line. Bruce McLaren (2), Ken Miles (1), and Dick Hutcherson (5) driving
Iacocca argued vigorously but unsuccessfully in the face of corporate resolve for the retention of the racing parts in the Ford catalog. In spite of his failure, Iacocca knew what sold cars to young people in those days and he knew, as did anyone who bothered to note the birth statistics from 1946 on, who was very shortly going to engulf the car buying market, a veritable army of young, aggressive potential customers.
Ford outsold Chevrolet in 1957, but fell back to second place in 1958. There is no empirical data to tie the sales figures to Ford’s racing participation and success, but the coincidence is there. General Motors, meanwhile, went at it hot and heavy. Using spinoff parts from their high performance Corvette on other models, Chevy built a formidable racing machine. In 1958 Chevy won 23 races to Ford’s 16. 1959 was worse, with Ford winning 8 races to Chevrolet’s 14.
In spite of the no-racing edict, pride and an incurable itch motivated Don Frey, executive engineer for Division product planning, to do something, how ever small, to get Ford back in front on the track. In 1959 he called Dave Evans, Don Sullivan and John Cowley together in his office getting the shipping labels ready for next delivery. He suggested that they pool their talents to come up with a “better idea” for the ailing Fords. With clandestine assistance promised from Bill Innes in Engine and Foundry, the intrepid trio set out with great zeal and little else.
Next, several events took place which were to profoundly influence Ford’s vow of abstinence. In February 1959, Daytona’s new superspeedway hosted its inaugural race. During 1960, Charlotte and Atlanta also spawned new superspeedways. There were now four supertracks, including Darlington, running eight events per year at speeds that defied credulity. The public, with a built-in psychological barrier of 100 mph, was now aware of NASCAR, and very much interested in it — particularly the young people.
In late 1960 McNamara was elevated to the presidency of the corporation. Lee lacocca filled the vacancy as division General Manager. Three months later, McNamara was called to Washington to serve as Secretary of Defense and lacocca was able to take some corrective action to recapture the youth market from Chevrolet and Pontiac, both of which were doing their thing at the track and were much in demand with the young bucks.
Under Lee’s guidance and direction, Ford started building some competitive hardware. With the new 390 c.i. engine as the great blue hope, Ford started slipping some aid out the back door. The motley was scrounged out of other projects for some very limited support.
The limited help paid off. In 1961, Ford started modestly back, winning seven NASCAR races, including Atlanta, Charlotte and two at Darlington — all major tracks hosting expansive crowds who went away drawling words of Ford’s new high speed efforts.
Ford officially abrogated the A M A non-aggression pact in June 1962 and launched an ad campaign hawking the Fairlane and Falcon as “the lively ones from Ford.” As Passino said, it was advertising only, but there were better days ahead. Ford made the initial penetration in the drag racing world, then tied up with Carroll Shelby and his Cobras. In 1963 they set their sights on Indy to tout their new small block engine, selecting Colin Chapman and Dan Gurney as the men to do that job. They very nearly won it on the first try with Jim Clark at the wheel of one of Chapman’s Lotus’, setting a pattern that would be repeated time and again in competitive arenas: because of faulty detail planning, Ford would almost win a major race. In succeeding attempts, they would eventually triumph but the dollar overkill required would alienate the very people they were trying to win over.
By 1964, the entire race program needed tighter control and coordination. Leo Beebe was given the job as manager of the new Special Vehicles Department. His task was simple: win at Indianapolis, Daytona and LeMans. He proceeded by kicking out all the non-racing activities and passing them over to Sales Promotion. He then installed Passino as his number two man and divided the assignments. Dave Evans had the Indy projects, John Cowley got stock cars and Ray Geddes was assigned the joyous task of winning at LeMans.
Above: Jacque Passino, stern, silent, unsmiling, was vital driving force for Ford’s racing efforts in the sizzling sixties.
In spite of the remarkable progress, success was not achieved without penalties or problems. Millions were wasted at Indy when races which should have been won were frittered away by poor pit work, improper selection of tires and the bad luck of driving in spilled oil. Lives lost in 1964 included Dave MacDonald at Indy, Fireball Roberts at Charlotte and Bobby Marshman at Phoenix.
The ultimate success of the Ford effort is well recorded legend. Indy was captured by Jimmy Clark in 1965 and LeMans fell victim in 1966, but not without some disappointments and a bit of personnel reshuffling. After what had started out as so promising in 1965 ended in abject failure, Ray Geddes was replaced by John Cowley, with Homer Perry as his assistant. Renewed efforts and perseverance paid off in the triumphant parade of three Fords across the finish line at LeMans in 1966.
Once the red Ferraris had been put in their place, Beebe left the Special Vehicles Division to become general manager of Lincoln-Mercury and Passino took over as manager of SVD at the end of the 1966 season. Success followed on success, with a second victory at LeMans in 1967 and an incredible follow-up win in 1968, by a John Wyer GT-40.
Ford dominated NASCAR from 1963 on. With the exception of the partial pullout in 1966 and Richard Petty’s great string of victories in 1967 (for MoPar), it has been very much a Ford show. Indy has been Ford country since 1965, with occasional spurts by Offy to keep it all interesting. The racing world had a Ford fence around it until the 1970 season.
Racing had been an expensive proposition for Ford. Speculation bracketed the 1967 budget at $17 to $30 million. The exact figures aren’t available but a little deductive reasoning can put a lot of numbers into their respective slots. LeMans in 1967 had to run close to $7 million. The stock car program devoured another huge share, with engines at close to $5,000 each and a race ready stocker weighing in at $22,000, just to start off; add in a backup car for each team, special cars for outside drivers, at least one to two new engines per car per race, travel accommodations, entertainment for guests, plus miscellaneous incidentals, and it’s not that difficult to consume two to three million dollars in a full season. Even the abortive 1968 Can-Am effort was capable of eating up seven figures. The early Indy project consumed the green at the rate of $32,000 per engine, and even when Ford sold the dohc’s to outsiders, they took a $15,000 bath in order to make the price competitive with Offy. Since many engineering refinements came out of the race program and the publicity value of most of the pro- grams was beyond calculation, all or most of the cost could be justified.
If you successfully engage them, why not try here and have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service. Invest the time to craft a killer elevator pitch. The return on your investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.
The act which inadvertently sealed the doom of Ford’s racing activities transpired when Don Frey moved from marketing to engineering in 1967. Since Don was an avid supporter of racing, he moved the Special Vehicle Department to engineering with him. At the time it was a wise move; it later proved fatal.
The same youth market which was the target of the performance program turned away from performance machinery. Imports ate a huge hole in the market in the late sixties, so Ford had to counter with a small car of their own. The task of developing the Maverick and Pinto consumed huge amounts of engineering funds. Smog regulations required more research and development support out of engineering funds. Racing had heavy competition for the dollars.
Marketing expenditures are fairly flexible. The target can be measured in numbers of people exposed to the product per dollar spent. With 53 million people watching racing in person and as many as 53 million more watching a single event on TV, the cause can be argued. However, when there is a fixed amount for engineering R & D, the mandatory items come first.
Above: End of an era. David Pearson (17), Gale Yarborough (21), Lee Roy Yarbrough (98) and Donnie Allison (27), Ford’s last racing team, in rare group shot, followed by now outlawed Superbird
Imports cut out the first piece and smog took the next one. Then the very thing that was created by research ate further into the available funds. The profit margin on a subcompact Maverick is considerably less than that on a loaded Torino or Mach I Mustang. Sales increased, but profit margins decreased. Less income, less allocation to R&D. The gun was already pointed at the head of racing.
In 1969 the government launched its safety crusade in earnest. Law after law poured out of Congress demanding improvements, with minimal lead times permitted. Every proposal that even came up before Congress and every standard that the Department of Transportation even considered demanded research and testing evaluation, even before it could be determined whether or not the proposal was feasible.
In 1969, Henry Ford II pledged the assets of the company to help whip the environmental pollution problem. He wasn’t fooling. Very shortly after his speech, Ford announced the allocation of $18 million for the installation of antismoke equipment on the factories’ smoke stacks. Two months later, the racing budget for 1970 was drastically reduced, by about 75 percent.
The response of the Ford NASCAR teams had no small influence on the final decision to pull out completely in 1971. Instead of tightening their belts and making all major races in order to keep Ford in the thick of the fight fight, many racers backed off and bypassed some of the mid-season events. This, of course, is good business: don’t run on your own money; wait till you can promote some outside sponsorship.
As a necessary corollary to the termination of the race program, Ford initiated a complete audit of their former subcontractors’ books. The mere act of investigation generates suspicion and attendant rumors. While none of the myriad stories currently traversing the whisper circuit have been confirmed, one incident of note can be verified. After having perused the books at Kar Kraft, the auditors planned an inventory check. Before this could be accomplished, the Ford employees who normally labor at one of the Kar Kraft facilities arrived at work to discover themselves locked out. Unwilling to breach the padlocks, they returned to Ford territory and were reassigned to more stable environs. The auditors are still pacing the floor.
With about $362 worth of Washington-inspired improvements riding on each car, and the promise of more oozing out of the Department of Transportation weekly, racing was headed for the chopping block. Since only a portion of the increase can be passed on to the customer, the rest has to come out of the corporate hide.
It must have been a painful ordeal for the men who gave the whole program its impetus to have to administer the bullet in the brain. Lee lacocca, newly appointed president of the com- pany, hung his career on the line 10 years ago for it; Bill Innes, North American operations boss, snuck engine parts out the back door; Don Frey, manufacturing group leader, started the first secret racing group. They have responded to a greater responsibility.
The men who made it work are largely in a state of shock, presiding over the carving up of their competition pie. Jacque Passino, a racing director without a racing program, declared himself surplus and resigned the day before Thanksgiving. Hank “Horsepower” Gregorich is the new manager of the Special Vehicles program, consisting of the three clinics and very little else; Homer Perry has the public relations test cars; Charley Gray is phasing out the NASCAR operation. John Cowley will be busy counting the racing beans during the 60-day phase out; Fran Hernandez is probably trying to get Parnelli’s winning Mustang cast in bronze.
It is ironic that the source of virtually all of the significant safety development in the last 15 years has been aced out by a government stimulated safety program. Perhaps there is still somebody in Dearborn who could point this out instructively to the Muskie-Nader complex.