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 Ralph Moody (Mitzi too)
Born:
September 10, 1917  -  Taunton, MA
Died: June 9, 2004  -  Mooresville, NC  -  Age 86

Ralph Moody was one of early drivers of NASCAR. However, he eventually became the most famous as team co-owner of Holman Moody.

Background

He built his first Model T Ford race car in 1935, and ran it on nights and weekends. He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, and drove a tank under the command of General George S. Patton. He married his wife Mitzi in 1949, and they moved to Florida so that he could race all year.

While still living in Massachusetts, after World War II, Ralph Moody was an active midget chauffeur in the now defunct Bay State Midget Racing Association.

NASCAR career

Moody won four races in 1956 for owner Pete DePaolo. He finished eighth in the final points, with 21 Top-10 finishes in 35 races.

He raced the first third of 1957, until Ford and the other American automobile manufacturers pulled out of racing.

Holman Moody



Mr. Moody immediately took out a loan against an airplane he owned, and he and John Holman paid $12,000 to buy the shop and equipment that had been Ford's Charlotte-based racing operation. Mr. Moody was the mechanical partner.

Holman Moody began as a racecar owner operation, but became more famous for their racecar building operation. Holman Moody chassis featured improvements such as tube shocks, square tubing frames, and rear ends with floater housings. They built around 50 race cars a year until Moody sold his portion of the company after the 1971 season.

Between 1958 and 1972, Moody and Holman built Ford racing cars that earned 83 poles and took 93 checkered flags in 366 NASCAR Winston Cup races. With David Pearson driving, they won consecutive championships in 1968 and '69, grossing more than $1.5 million in purse money.

Holman & Moody are renowned as the team that built virtually all of the factory Ford racecars of the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's, driven by Bobby and Donnie Allison, Mario Andretti, Johnny Beauchamp, Jimmy Clark, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Graham Hill, Ned Jarrett, Parnelli Jones, Junior Johnson, Fred Lorenzen, Tiny Lund, Marvin Panch, Benny Parson, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Wendell Scott, Jackie Stewart, Curtis Turner, Bobby Unser, Joe Weatherly, Cale Yarborough, Lee Roy Yarbrough, and many more, but their influence and achievements extend even beyond this. They rank as the most successful team in motorsports history.



It began in the early 1950's when John Holman, of Southern California, was a crew chief for the Carrera Panamericana Lincolns, while Ralph Moody was running his own speed shops and driving his nearly unbeatable midgets in New England. In 1956 John Holman moved his young family to Charlotte, North Carolina, to manage Ford's new stock car racing effort. Ralph Moody was already one of the factory driver-mechanics. They won their very first race together, foreshadowing the future. In 1957, Ford officially left racing under the AMA ban, but not before selling the Charlotte operation to the new partnership - Holman & Moody. So began the most storied racing program in the world, where Competition Proven became more than a trademark.

                          

John Holman was the ambitious merchant, the business manager, and the master salesman. Ralph Moody's special gift was translating track behavior into mechanical innovations. Once these talents were combined, the partners never looked back. The team grew from a shoe-string operation to a multi-million dollar business complex devoted to racing, high-performance component design, engineering, testing and manufacturing. Three hundred employees worked around the clock to support the Holman & Moody racing dynasty that traversed the globe and transcended the sport of racing. Holman & Moody was the foremost and most prolific manufacturer of racecars and racing components in the world. Holman & Moody made Charlotte, North Carolina the Racing Capital of the world.

             

Holman & Moody's innovations included the fuel cell, full-floater rear axle, on-board fire systems, quick change disk brakes and much more. The 1966 Holman & Moody Fairlane is the basis for today's NASCAR racecars. Future crew chiefs who learned their trade at Holman & Moody include Robert Yates, Waddell Wilson, Keith Dorton, Jake Elder, Junior Johnson, Bondi Long, Bud Moore, the Wood Brothers, and Smokey Yunick.

Highlights of the team's record include Dan Gurney's five wins at Riverside, David Pearson's 1968 and 1969 Grand National Championship, and the David Pearson/Wood Brothers #21 victory in NASCAR's Greatest Race of All Time – the 1976 Daytona 500. Driving a Holman & Moody Ford in 1963, Fred Lorenzen was one of the nation's highest paid athletes at $122,558.

In 1965, Holman & Moody-built Fords won 48 of 55 Grand National Races - a record that has never been broken.

In 1966 the Holman & Moody-built Ford GT40 Mark II's finished 1-2-3 at Daytona, then 1-2-3 at Sebring, and then, in the most famous racing victory of all time, 1-2-3 at LeMans.

Holman & Moody piled on many more wins over three decades of competition to amass a cumulative record unparalleled in the era.

In Can Am, Drag Racing, Sports Cars, European Rally Racing, NASCAR, Indy, Off Road, Off-shore Boat Racing, USAC, and throughout the world of motorsports, the slogan "Competition Proven" personified the team that became legendary for winning – Holman & Moody.

Ralph Moody, Inc.

He then opened Ralph Moody Inc. in Charlotte. He built race engines and race cars, and did research and development of high mileage automobiles at that site for several years.

List of Halls of Fame inductions

2011 IMHOF Inductee John Holman

 

By Cary Estes

    In 1957, two men who had a similar passion for racing but differing visions about their place in the sport joined forces in Charlotte, N.C.

    One man, driver
Ralph Moody, simply wanted to work on cars with his buddies in a garage behind the gas station and go racing every weekend. The other, John Holman, had a much broader view of the sport’s future. He imagined running a factory that built race cars and a machine shop that produced parts and pieces.

    Holman’s viewpoint won out, and for the next 15 years the Holman & Moody race team was one of the most prolific organizations in motorsports.

    On the track,
Holman-Moody won 96 NASCAR Cup Series races and captured consecutive Cup championships in 1968-69 with the legendary David Pearson behind the wheel. Off the track, the operation became the dominant force in the Ford Motor Company’s racing efforts, producing cars for five different touring series throughout the 1960s.

    “John Holman was one of those guys who came into the picture and recognized early on that NASCAR could be a really big thing,” said Bobby Allison, one of more than 30 drivers who raced for Holman-Moody, a list that includes Fireball Roberts, Cale Yarbrough and Mario Andretti. “He and Ralph Moody built an incredible organization. When they were going strong, they were really on top of the world.”

    John Holman was born on Nov. 9, 1918 in Nashville , Tenn. , though his family moved to California when he was young. He began his career working as a tool and die maker, and then later became a trucker. In 1952 he got a job driving the parts truck for the Ford-backed Stroppe-Smith team competing in the Mexican Road Race (later known as the Baja 1000).

    The team won the race, and Holman was hired to work as a mechanic and parts man at the shop in Long Beach . The organization was involved in a wide variety of racing, including dirt tracks, motorboats and Indy car. Holman once served on the pit crew for two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bill Vukovich.

    Ford’s motorsports operations at the time were divided between California and North Carolina , and in 1956 Holman was hired to take over the Charlotte-based shop. But Ford and the other major auto manufacturers abruptly withdrew from racing the following year. As sort of a severance package, Ford gave each of its drivers a race car, a trailer and some spare parts.

    One of the Ford drivers was Ralph Moody, who won four Cup races in 1956. He and Holman pooled their money to buy cars and equipment from any of the other suddenly unemployed drivers who were going to get out of racing. They also purchased the shop in Charlotte.

    And thus the Holman & Moody race team was born.

    “The first thing we did was to stop racing all of the existing cars,” John Holman said in an interview that is part of the historical material provided by the company. “They weren’t winning, so why race them?

    “Then Ralph and I built a new car and Ralph drove it on the NASCAR track in West Memphis , Arkansas . It was a make or break race, financially. Ralph won it even though the windshield collapsed on the last lap, knocking out Ralph for a few seconds. He managed to come in first even though he was semi-conscious.

    “That was the beginning of the (race team). Had the car lost, well, who knows? But it didn’t, thank the lord.”

    The organization continued to experience early success with such drivers as Fred Lorenzen, Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly. So when Ford ventured back into racing in 1962, the company decided to make Holman-Moody the focal point of their efforts.

    The money, and the victories, began flowing in. In 1965, Fords built by Holman-Moody won an astounding 48 of the 55 NASCAR Cup races. Pearson won a total of 27 times over his two championship seasons. And Allison won nine times driving for Holman-Moody in 1971.

    But Holman’s contributions extended beyond Victory Lane and the record books. He was one of the sport’s primary innovators in the 1960s. He helped develop the box steel chassis for NASCAR that became the standard for all the cars, and he worked on a number of safety innovations including window nets, fuel cells and the full shoulder harness.

    “He expected the cars to be well prepared, but he also expected them to be safe,” said Holman’s son, Lee, who became president of Holman-Moody in 1978. “He couldn’t stand the thought of having somebody out there on something that wasn’t correct. He was a perfectionist when it came to finding a safer way.”

    Lee Holman said his father had no problem sharing this technology with the other Ford teams, even though they were competitors on race day.

    “He believed that we should sell the competition exactly the same thing we raced,” Lee Holman said. “His theory was that we should be better prepared, we should have a better strategy for the race and we should have better mechanics who will adjust our cars better.”

    Moody sold his share of stock back to the company in 1972 and left the organization. Three years later, Holman died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 56. At the time of his death he was testing a new truck intercooler he hoped to patent. Ever the innovator.

    “He took pride in the innovations and just getting it done,” Lee Holman said. “When they had a problem that needed to be solved, he was like, ‘OK, let’s go attack it.’ That’s just the way he approached things.”

    Tickets available for the 2011 International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, scheduled for April 14, 2011, at the SPEED Channel Dome in Talladega, Ala. This black-tie ceremony consists of a reception, banquet and awards ceremony. (Tuxedo Required Event) Individual tickets are $125 and a table for eight may be purchased for $1000 by calling 256-315-4631 or 256-315-4582. Visa, MasterCard and Discover are accepted.

Contact: Amanda Thomas- International Motorsports Hall of Fame
PO Box 1018  Talladega, AL 35161
Office - 256-362-5002    Fax - 256-315-2792

This article originally appeared in the June, 2005 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines.


Ralph Moody, Fiireball Roberts, Fred Lorenzen. The infamous Holman Moody Ford team

If you're a NASCAR fan and know the history of the Daytona 500, then you've likely seen the famous photo of Lee Petty in an Oldsmobile and Johnny Beauchamp in a Ford Thunderbird swapping paint and sheet metal on the last lap of the 1959 inaugural race, a contest which Beauchamp eventually won by inches. When the checkered flag waved, John Holman and Ralph Moody, who prepared the T-Bird, were thrilled. But close scrutiny of the photo finish ended that triumphant moment several days later when Petty was declared the winner.

        
                                 Fred Lorenzen and Ralph Moody assembling a Ford

Maybe that agonizing moment drove Holman-Moody and, in particular, Ralph Moody to strive energetically to push the team to the top. But not only did Holman-Moody eventually become one of the strongest teams in NASCAR history, they would humiliate Enzo Ferrari at Le Mans, win road races in Studebakers, European races in Ford Falcons, races on the water in their own custom boats, drag races across America and dusty off-road races in Mexico. And Holman-Moody could boast that they had the most prolific drivers win in one of their cars. The list is almost endless: Allison, Andretti, Gurney, Lorenzen, Turner, Weatherly and David Pearson, who won 27 times in just two years and was the only Grand National driver to bring Holman-Moody a championship.

Born in 1917 in Taunton, Massachusetts, Moody exhibited both mechanical and racing aptitude at an early age. In the 1930s, he built a Model T racer with a 2 x 4 wood chassis. After high school, Moody served in the U.S. Army and drove a tank for General George Patton. After tanks, he switched back to race cars with 60hp Ford flatheads and was regularly beating more advanced Offenhausers. He married in 1949 and eventually moved to Hollywood, Florida, where, after a short time as a mechanic at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership, he opened his own repair shop.

The team of John Holman and Ralph Moody opened for business in 1957. In the same year, Moody saw Lorenzen race for the first time. He knew some day he would have him driving on his team. Driving a 1965 Ford Galaxie powered by a 427 V-8, Lorenzen won the rain-shortened 1965 Daytona 500 along with a purse of $27,000.

The mid-1960s were a busy time for Holman-Moody. The team had a Ford GT-40 entry with a team of Mark Donahue and Paul Hawkins for Le Mans in 1966. Moody also fielded two other Mk II teams at Le Mans in '66, driven by Mario Andretti and Lucien Bianchi and Dick Hutcherson and Ronnie Bucknum, who finished third that year. The Donahue team blew up a transmission, and Andretti's team blew an engine.

At the same time, Holman-Moody was also very successful on the dragstrip. In 1965, Holman-Moody built Gas Ronda's first A/FX Mustang with an SOHC 427 Ford and was the first injected car to cover the quarter mile in eight seconds.

After the 1971 season, Moody sold his shares in Holman-Moody and opened Ralph Moody Inc., in Charlotte and built race cars and engines along with research and development of high-mileage cars for several years.

Dr. John Craft of Florida, who owns Lorenzen's Daytona-winning Ford, called Moody a mechanical genius. "He was the quiet mechanical guy behind the scenes and shunned the glamour and glitz. John Holman was more of a businessman and was definitely important in how the team ran, but without Ralph, there would not have been Holman-Moody," Craft said. "The innovations he developed are still in use today in NASCAR."

Moody's résumé includes perfecting the Ford 9-inch rear end, today used in every Nextel Cup car. He also developed the four-coil, screw-jack chassis with trailing arms and the first dry chemical fire extinguisher; he even set an original GT-40 Ford ablaze to test it, Craft said. Moody also utilized aerodynamics to cheat the wind before that practice was widely accepted. In the mid-1960s, he convinced Big Bill France to allow him to graft the front end of a Galaxie body onto a Fairlane because the big, heavy Galaxies were getting killed on the track. To do this, he took the full-frame Galaxie front end, narrowed it two inches and attached it to a Fairlane, which had a unibody. This was the true beginning of the half-chassis cars. Moody also perfected the three-part anti-roll bar, which was splined on both ends and rode on bronze bushings, a component still used in racing today.

"They were prolific car builders. I interviewed Ralph many times, and last saw him in 2003," says Craft. "He was on oxygen at the time and very frail, but we had a good discussion about racing. He led a full, long life and was a vital part of the elite race teams in the 1960s."

Moody was inducted into the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, the National Motorsports Press Association Stock Car Racing Hall of Fame in 1990 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994. He died at age 86 in June 2004.

 

Moody Modified  

by Phil Smith

Fifty-five years ago, in 1950, Ralph Moody won a scheduled modified race at Thompson.

Black Ford Talladega Prototype

The following information was provided by Ralph Moody

The Black Talladega was my Dad’s personal car, which he kept after leaving Holman Moody in 1972.

Lee Holman (John Holman’s son) still runs Holman-Moody which is a trademarked company name.

                 

The black car stayed in the family and we started to restore the car before my dad died, which had sat in my Dad’s carport for many years. I had a good friend doing some of the restoration and he closed his company, so I retrieved the car and have been a little slow with progress since I’ve not had the time to devote to the project over the past few years.

Attached are two photos of the car, which has been stripped, blasted, and primed. Bracing was installed to allow removal of the floor pan on the passenger side. There was some rust (heater core leak), but this has been cut out and replaced, and the body is going onto a rotisserie for final welds on the bottom side before heading out for paint sometime in 2011.

I just got the engine back this summer and have run it on a test stand  this fall with all the hardware back on the engine. It’s the original block, heads, and rotating assembly, albeit with 0.030” over pistons.

It is an “R” code car with the Ram air system, PS/PB/AC.  It has the standard  black interior (bench front and back), C6 automatic, and all Black exterior. (hood color matches body).

The car was partially assembled at Holman Moody, and it’s still visible to see pop rivets and cut/weld marks where the rockers were removed/replaced on this car.  My dad had indicated the body sat on a surface plate at HM for some time as a template car, and then was assembled/reassembled into a street car.  Some of the parts needed came thru Don Sullivan at Ford, who he had known for years.

Hope this helps with some info on the car. Will try to be ready for next fall, but will see how much time/effort I can devote this coming year! Hearing the engine running again has inspired some new goals.




Ralph Moody (#12) Ford  and Bill Blair (#75) Mercury - Darlington 1956


 

NASCAR Grand National Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1956 38 35 of 56 4 13 21 5 5258 312 15,492 8 8.1 12.3
1957 39 10 of 53 1 5 5 0 1039 100 2,905   7.4 13.1
1959 41 1 of 44 0 0 1 0 197 0 200   3.0 6.0
1962 44 1 of 53 0 0 0 0 1 0 75 137 24.0 25.0
4 years 47 5 18 27 5 6495 412 18,672   8.2 12.6

 

 Owner Statistics - Holman Moody

Year Driver Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1957 Bill Amick 2 0 0 0 0 258 0 150 16 8.5 18.0
1957 Curtis Turner 3 0 0 1 0 434 56 675 22 6.7 15.3
1957 Joe Weatherly 10 0 5 6 0 1811 3 4,815 50 10.8 12.7
1958 Possum Jones 1 0 0 0 0 169 0 125 41 7.0 11.0
1958 Curtis Turner 14 3 8 10 1 2628 827 9,320 20 10.0 7.9
1958 Joe Weatherly 11 1 4 5 1 1909 104 4,935 28 14.2 16.2
1960 Johnny Beauchamp 2 0 0 0 0 102 0 60 11 14.0 24.5
1960 Curtis Turner 6 0 0 1 1 817 106 2,770 36 15.5 24.0
1960 Joe Weatherly 17 3 5 7 0 3194 246 16,970 20 6.6 18.0
1961 Fred Lorenzen 14 3 5 5 4 2459 781 25,830 19 3.1 18.2
1962 Dan Gurney 2 0 1 1 0 174 0 700 77 6.5 15.5
1962 Fred Lorenzen 17 1 10 11 3 4129 471 41,898 7 7.2 11.0
1962 Nelson Stacy 15 3 5 7 0 3484 371 42,515 21 8.1 17.9
1962 Speedy Thompson 2 0 0 0 0 185 0 500 42 19.5 20.0
1963 Larry Frank 2 0 1 1 1 235 5 1,800 28 6.5 7.5
1963 Dan Gurney 3 1 3 3 0 424 120 18,250   10.0 3.7
1963 Fred Lorenzen 25 6 21 22 8 6895 2411 111,335 3 2.9 5.6
1963 Tiny Lund 5 0 0 3 0 1299 2 4,375 10 11.4 14.6
1963 Dave MacDonald 1 0 0 0 0 176 0 675 42 13.0 12.0
1963 Ken Miles 1 0 0 0 0 139 0 710   10.0 11.0
1963 Jimmy Pardue 1 0 0 0 0 384 0 1,050 6 10.0 13.0
1963 Fireball Roberts 15 4 9 11 0 3817 662 54,215 5 4.0 10.1
1963 Nelson Stacy 12 0 4 9 0 2816 76 20,025 14 9.5 11.5
1964 Bay Darnell 1 0 0 0 0 205 0 625   26.0 13.0
1964 Larry Frank 3 0 0 2 0 347 0 2,475 24 12.0 11.3
1964 Skip Hudson 1 0 0 1 0 178 0 1,075 57 9.0 8.0
1964 Bobby Johns 5 0 0 1 0 1150 0 2,250 37 13.2 18.8
1964 Junior Johnson 1 0 0 0 1 8 2 100 14 1.0 17.0
1964 Fred Lorenzen 16 8 10 10 7 4426 2375 72,385 13 4.4 10.0
1964 Dave MacDonald 1 0 1 1 0 138 0 6,745 29 11.0 2.0
1964 Bobby Marshman 2 0 0 1 0 56 0 925   11.5 21.5
1964 Marvin Panch 1 0 1 1 0 44 0 350 10 22.0 4.0
1964 Benny Parsons 1 0 0 0 0 258 0 250 120 9.0 21.0
1964 Fireball Roberts 9 1 5 6 0 1702 17 28,345 27 9.1 12.4
1964 Johnny Rutherford 1 0 0 1 0 156 0 1,350   21.0 7.0
1964 Bob Welborn 3 0 2 2 0 506 125 805 78 6.7 7.0
1964 Don White 1 0 0 0 0 176 0 825   13.0 11.0
1964 Cale Yarborough 5 0 0 3 0 1681 0 3,140 19 10.0 12.6
1965 A.J. Foyt 1 0 0 1 0 169 12 1,035   12.0 10.0
1965 Dick Hutcherson 51 9 32 36 8 11467 2058 49,720 2 4.5 7.3
1965 Bobby Johns 8 0 5 5 0 1612 35 20,670 20 6.0 11.4
1965 Fred Lorenzen 17 4 5 6 6 3677 981 77,200 13 3.5 15.1
1965 Pedro Rodriguez 1 0 1 1 0 391 0 3,425   12.0 5.0
1966 Dick Hutcherson 14 3 8 9 1 3152 400 22,485 28 6.0 13.9
1966 Fred Lorenzen 10 2 6 6 2 2927 758 36,675 23 4.2 11.4
1967 Bobby Allison 2 2 2 2 1 1000 426 19,550 4 2.0 1.0
1967 Mario Andretti 6 1 1 3 0 867 137 52,165   13.3 14.8
1967 Jimmy Clark 1 0 0 0 0 144 0 665   24.0 30.0
1967 Dick Hutcherson 2 0 1 1 1 632 80 1,075 3 2.5 10.5
1967 Fred Lorenzen 5 1 2 2 0 895 23 19,125 29 4.0 12.2
1967 David Pearson 12 0 7 7 2 3572 327 53,325 7 5.8 12.0
1967 Swede Savage 3 0 0 2 0 1091 0 1,275 70 14.7 10.0
1968 Bobby Allison 2 1 2 2 0 700 317 3,900 11 2.0 1.5
1968 Donnie Allison 1 0 0 0 0 48 0 1,000 25 7.0 40.0
1968 Mario Andretti 3 0 0 0 0 297 20 2,845   14.0 22.7
1968 A.J. Foyt 1 0 0 1 0 325 0 1,600   25.0 10.0
1968 Frank Gardner 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 515   21.0 44.0
1968 David Pearson 47 16 36 38 12 12797 3950 119,987 1 3.0 5.5
1969 Mario Andretti 1 0 0 0 0 132 7 925   7.0 18.0
1969 Parnelli Jones 1 0 0 0 1 22 0 770   10.0 37.0
1969 David Pearson 51 11 42 44 14 14270 3020 184,685 1 4.6 5.3
1970 David Pearson 18 1 8 10 2 3835 580 85,968 23 5.7 13.3
1971 Bobby Allison 23 9 19 20 6 6991 2766 209,060 4 2.9 4.5
1971 A.J. Foyt 1 0 0 0 0 33 0 655   10.0 38.0
1971 David Pearson 9 2 7 7 2 2228 251 24,425 51 4.6 9.1
1971 Rolf Stommelen 1 0 0 0 0 53 0 790   6.0 39.0
1973 Bobby Unser 1 0 1 1 0 186 0 4,520   7.0 4.0
15 years 526 96 285 336 85 122483 24908 1,485,378   6.3 10.7

     

 

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