Robert Dinges and I were sitting in my 1916 Hudson Hillclimber on about Day 12 of the 2007 Great Race somewhere way out west waiting for our restart time when I decided I was going to build a 1950s vehicle for the event. I wanted something easy to get in and out of and that had some power. I have always loved 1957 Fords and have had two retractables and a convertible over the years, so I started researching a car to build from one of those. It didn’t take long to find what I was looking for.
I read about supercharged ’57 Fords racing on the beach at Daytona as part of NASCAR’s Convertible Division and I knew that’s what I wanted to build. And at the time I knew the daughter of the late Curtis Turner, one of the greatest hard-charging NASCAR drivers of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s. He raced a supercharged Ford at Daytona in 1957. The only problem was his car was Coral Sand and Colonial White, not the color combination I wanted on my car (Coral Sand is best described as “peach”).
I also didn’t want to put the money in it necessary to build a supercharged car. So I researched some more and learned that Fireball Roberts actually won the very first Rebel 300 at Darlington in a non-supercharged ’57 Ford convertible (NASCAR banned supercharged cars during the first half of the racing season). So that was going to be the one.
For years I hunted photos and video. Through some friends at Hemmings I got hooked up with a guy who had original black and white photos of the car and the race at Darlington. And I found some color video from the race at Daytona. We used that to build the car. Robert Dinges helped me with a lot of it (Fireball was his favorite driver when he was a kid).
Enter Buddy Green. Buddy competed in the 2012 Great Race with his Dad in their 1965 Mustang. Like most folks, he caught the bug while on the race and decided he wanted to try a different car for 2013. He called me looking for a ‘20s or ‘30s era race car like Chad Caldwell’s Auburn. I happened to mention my ’57 Ford and sent him some photos. Now Buddy is the owner of the ’57 Ford and he is going to race it this summer from St. Paul to Mobile.
I love creating a car from scratch, and it is hard to let them go. But it will be nice to see it on the road and in the Great Race.