Car Spotlight>>the Stock Car That Was Bound For Le Mans

The other day we took a look at a record-breaking Dodge Daytona stock car from the Canepa collection, and today we have another historic stock car – albeit one built for an entirely different purpose. Back in the mid 1970s an effort was made by NASCAR to create a class for its cars in IMSA and FIA sports car racing. This ’75 Ford Torino is a result of that short experiment.

Like a lot of the Ford stock cars of the era, this Torino was prepared by Holman Moody. It was based on a Grand National chassis, but received a number of tweaks to make it more competitive for road racing.

The motor for example, was a Boss 429 mounted as low as possible to make the car more balanced. Output for the dry-sumped big block was an impressive 600 horsepower.

While you can immediately see the Torino’s NASCAR roots, the body for the IMSA car is actually quite different. You have the rear spoiler for instance, and brake lights which look like they were installed rather quickly.

Here’s the interior. Looks slightly more modern than the ’69 Daytona doesn’t it? Such is the difference six years makes.

The Torino was campaigned at the 1976 24 Hours of Daytona with a crew of four drivers lead by NASCAR hero David Pearson. Also on the team was David’s son Larry Pearson, plus Gary and Jim Bowsher

You might recognize the #21 on the side of the car as the same one on Trevor Bayne’s Wood Brothers Ford when he won last year’s Daytona 500.

The group of four drivers was able take the class win at the ’76 Daytona 24 Hours, along with an overall 16th place finish. This was despite an engine replacement late in the race that set them back three hours,.

The team also in line to run the car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1976, but plans were called off after John Holman of Holman Moody passed away. The Torino was never raced again, and as you can see remains completely unrestored.

Despite the car’s short competition history, it remains a fascinating time capsule from a very unique period in American motorsport history.

Today all we can do is imagine how cool it would have been to see this car hauling down the Mulsanne Straight in 1976…

-Mike Garrett

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21 comments
greenroadster
greenroadster

I think this is the best muscle car ever. Even better looking than the Mustang from Bullit.

And that wheels and tires.....like an F1 car! :)

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It's really amazing that no matter the country, the language or the continent the passion for racing is exactly the same.

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Coolness; plain and simple.

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its allmost looks like an the ausise falcon xb coupe

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That car reminds me so much of a Ford Falcon Xa/XB Coupé from Down under. It's absolutely gorgeous and I would love to see it in action. There would be some snort off that yoke in Le Mans!

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in year 76 in 24 hours of Le Mans, NASCAR racing two cars - the Ford Torino and Dodge Charger with Greenwod Vette and DeKon Monza of IMSA

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Actually they ran a ford AND Dodge stock car at the 76 LeMons... im unsure on the fords performance but i do know the dodge junked 3 engines do to the difference in octane ratings. Although they did hit 215mph on the Muslane straight!! A little research on Google should yield an article from Motor Trend Classic on the cars

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This makes my day, knowing that car was built for that purpose, it's a shame cause that car deserves to roar around Le Mans circuit.

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That car better stay AS IS forever! That's quite the story. One can only imagine how it would have done at Le Mans after what they had learned from campaigning it in Daytona. Mike, can you fill us in on what cars where in its class?

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Great car and a very nice article. Any chance of a desktop of the last picture, please?

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Thanks for posting some NASCAR-related articles. I'm betting there will be more of them as Speedweeks and the Daytona 500 approach!

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This is just a tease - wheres the gratuitous engine shots!!

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This is sooo cool what a concept! Nascar Cars thundering down the Mulsanne Straight! Bad Ass!

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Great spotlight! I had no idea this plan or car existed!

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I'm not sure you could fit much more America into a car. That's an awesome piece.

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I'm no NASCAR fan, but that's badass.

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What an awesome machine. I love the racing patina and it would sound awesome on the Mulsanne.

Daytona LeMans guy
Daytona LeMans guy

Well, not exactly guys ! There was a few teams that were "chosen" by Bill Sr., McGriff, Donleavey, etc., Pearson didn't go because of prior commitments and the situation at Holman Moody. This car was NOT built exclusively for Le Mans as some people would like to have you believe, it was built for Daytona. It ran in the pack but did end up winning at Daytona. The race was called at 17 hours that year because of water in the fuel, who knows how it would have finished if it had gone the full 24 hours. This is a classic car, no doubt, but the value is the winning car at Daytona, not a Le Mans car. I can assure you that both cars that DID go to Le Mans (Donleavey Torino and McGriff Dodge) have been lost, we do not know if they have been destroyed or just sitting in a barn but at this point they have not been found. Those cars ARE Le Mans cars and do have extreme value.


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