Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In the Shop: Winters-Ford V8-60 Midget Racer

by Willy Vinton and Nancy DeWitt

This Ford Midget (originally numbered S-41) was built by Stan Winters, who recruited Ralph Moody to drive it. Moody drove ‘nearly unbeatable’ Midgets and became a legendary stock car driver and mechanic. In 1956 he partnered with John Holman to become the most successful team in motorsports history. They built virtually all of the factory Ford racecars from the 50s through the 70s—cars that were driven by such greats as Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Richard Petty, Jackie Stewart, Bobby Unser, LeeRoy Yarbrough and Cale Yarborough.

We checked the car over and decided that it was time for a little (okay, a lot) of work to make it a little safer and more operable. We now have parts ordered for the engine and we are machining other pieces to get it ready for a ride around the race track this summer.  We need to make sure it is as safe as one can make a car like this, as it is built out of old junk yard parts and a lot of gas welding was used instead of stick welding.

Some of the things we found on inspection were very interesting. The in-out box was home built, using some gears out of a Model A Ford transmission. This included the first-reverse sliding gear that had been machined to fit the back of the crank to drive a piece of the main shaft cut from the same transmission. The second-third speed sliding gear was used as the main drive gear in the in-out box. We made all new (used parts from another Model A tranmission) to duplicate the originals, and it is getting close to time to finish putting it together.

Here we are cleaning the block, which is a little Ford 60 horse flathead. Rod Benson, shown at left, is always up for a cleaning job and is a good hand to have around. We should have it ready in the next couple weeks, so watch for that to happen. We'll put a video on YouTube so people see this fabulous midget racer come back to life again.

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