OLD NEWS ARCHIVE
AND OUR HISTORY (see 2004 below)
422 Motorsports Season Preview
The big news this year
will be the return of Fast Fred Henderson piloting a clone of the "Shazam" Thunderbolt
he drove in 1964. This much anticipated event should occur late in the season. Check out the schedule page
to see where you can see the entire 422 Motorsports team in action!
422 Motor sports and Sunoco Race Fuels Announce Partnership
Motorsports Team is pleased to announce their association with Sunoco Race Fuels
effective immediately. Any fuel distributed by Sunoco Fuels can be obtained through
422 Motorsports. Orders can be picked up at the 422 Motor sports shop or delivery can
be arranged. Call the shop at 610-630-6563 and start giving yourself the winning edge
with Sunoco Fuels. Be sure to visit Sunoco Fuels, click on the logo above.
422 Motor sports would like to give Sunoco a special thanks for their support
of Nostalgia Drag Racing and their outstanding products that help keep our
cars running at peak performance.
2006 Top Headline
NSCA Awards Banquet
LaMont wins “Engine Builder of the Year” at recent NSCA Banquet
LaMont, team leader and chief engine builder at 422 Motorsports
received this award as a result of votes received from fellow racers and peers who
recognized the impact that the 422 team has on Nostalgia Super Stock and the
entire NSCA series. LaMonts efforts have produced record runs in Nostalgia Super Stock
as well as wins in the NSCA World Finals in two of the last three years.
422 Boys also won best appearing crew at the year end banquet.
The 422 presence at the races is truly impressive with our truck, motorhome,
awesome race cars and crew members who are well dressed and above all friendly.
All of our crew members are more than willing to stop and talk to fans about the
“Glory Days” both past and present.
Motorsports would like to thank all of our NSCA friends who helped us
win these honors.
2005 Top Headline
WORLD’S QUICKEST/FASTEST NOSTALGIA SUPER STOCK FORD
PERFORMANCE: 8.55 SECONDS. 158 MPH
In October 2005
the 422 Motorsports prepared Dearborn Thunder 1965 Ford Falcon of Frank Pellegrini
became the world’s quickest and fastest Nostalgia Super Stock Ford at Maryland International
Raceway in Budds Creek, MD during the annual Ford Fever weekend.
Powered by a Rich
La Mont prepared all aluminum, naturally aspirated 427 Ford wedge engine
producing over eight hundred horsepower on Sunoco Racing Fuel and backed by a four speed
manual transmission the Falcon rides on American Racing wheels at all four corners. Cooling is
provided by Griffin Thermal Products while critical systems are monitored by Auto Meter gauges.
Mickey Thompson tires provide the bite resulting in what are phenomenal sixty foot times for a
Nostalgia Super Stock car.
Competition Plus Article
And a brief history of 422 Motorsports
days, unless your name is John Force, or you’re fortunate
enough to work for him, the Ford brand name
is not seen to any great extent in organized drag racing. Of course, there are the specialized racing sanctions
that have grown up around the ubiquitous Mustang, and the IHRA Pro Stock ranks have been pretty well dominated
by Mustangs, Probes and Mercury Cougars over the course of the last few seasons. But actual factory participation
in straight-line racing is very rare indeed.
wasn’t always that way, however. In the early 1960’s, before the so-called
"factory hot rods" as today’s Pro Stock
machines are called, the drag world was embroiled in a spiraling performance war between honest-to-goodness
specialized drag cars direct from the "big three" auto makers. The folks from Dearborn were firmly entrenched in the
front lines of the mêlée, their hottest hardware of the day doing battle with the legendary Max Wedge Mopars and
Super Duty Pontiacs, among others.
1961 and 1963, despite a strong effort, Ford’s drag racing program struggled to
keep up with the
competition. All that would change, however, with the introduction in the1963 model year (1963-½, according to
Ford) of the Sports Roof body for the two-door Galaxie, along with the legendary 427 engine. With a single Holley
carburetor, the new 427 was rated at 410 bhp at 5,600 rpm. Outfitted with two four-barrel Holley carbs, it put out 425
bhp at 6,000 rpm. Both versions came with 11.5:1 compression, an aluminum manifold, and performance packages
that included heavy-duty suspensions, axles, and brakes, together with heavy-duty drive shafts and universal joints.
of their beefed up performance, however, the Galaxies were still heavy, weighing
upwards of 4,000 lbs.
They did well enough in circle track competition, but still lagged behind at the drag strip and on the streets. To
counter this, Ford built 50 special lightweight Sports Roof Galaxies for competition. They had stripped interiors
and ultra-lightweight bucket seats, as well as aluminum transmission casings and bell-housings. Fiberglass was
used for the bumpers, front fenders, and the "bubble" hood, which was necessary to clear a special aluminum
high-rise manifold. A number of the cars even had fiberglass doors. With the 425-horsepower 427 under the
hood, these lightweights were able to turn the quarter mile in 12.07 seconds at 118 mph. However, they were still
outgunned at every turn by hot Chevys, Pontiacs, Dodges, and Plymouths.
end, the ’63 1/2 Ford Galaxie, while a very potent factory-produced car by
today’s standards, was no
match for the aforementioned screamers from Chrysler and GM. It must be remembered that in the early 1960's,
success on the drag strips put the cars and their manufacturers in the limelight, which in turn bolstered sales to the
performance market. Adopting the strategy "Win on Sunday, Sell on Monday", Ford engineers had already been
hard at work for months on the project that would bring the ultimate factory Ford muscle car to life. In 1963, an
alliance between Ford's Special Vehicle Department and East Providence, Rhode Island’s Tasca Ford produced a
"mule" vehicle that was used to determine if an advantage could be gained by using the unitized Fairlane body in
place of the full-framed Galaxie. The resulting test vehicle, a '63 Fairlane 500 hardtop, was equipped with a
427/425-horsepower engine and a four-speed transmission.
went largely unnoticed at the races it attended, but it was determined that this
combination would give
Ford the weight break it needed to run with its Chrysler and General Motors counterparts. The new "super car"
was dubbed the Thunderbolt, and Dearborn Steel Tubing Company (DST) was picked to do all of the conversion
work on the new vehicles. The "core" cars were built at Ford’s Dearborn plant as Fairlane 500 two-door sedans,
minus sound deadener, sealer, insulation, radios, heaters, and rear window cranking mechanisms and then
shipped to DST.
engineers designed a new cylinder head for the Thunderbolt, the Hi-Riser, along
with a special two four-barrel
intake manifold that raised the port angle to give the fuel mixture almost a straight shot to the cylinder. This head/intake
combination with an improved camshaft and high 13.5:1 compression put the power back in. But inserting the
big motor into the light Fairlane required extensive and costly body and suspension modifications. As they had
with the Galaxie lightweight, designers molded a lightweight front-end package from fiberglass, which included front
fenders and a hood with a special bubble to clear the high-rise intake.
special design also included aluminum front bumpers, Plexiglas side windows, ram
air induction via six-inch
ducts from the high beam headlight openings and a heavy-duty trunk-mounted diesel truck battery. Additionally,
the drag cars included lightweight front bucket seats and a rubber floor mat instead of carpet. There was no
warranty with the Thunderbolt, and each car had to be picked up in Dearborn. Eventually, 100 Thunderbolts were
produced, and Ford lost money on each one. Some of the first cars were actually sold for $1.00, but ultimately
Ford sold them for $3900 (four-speed) and $4000 (automatic) respectively.
hands of such famous drivers as Dick Brannan, Phil Bonner, Butch Leal and Gas
Ronda, these Thunderbolts
were deadly in both Super Stock and A/FX (Factory Experimental) competition - many recording elapsed times
in the 11.50 second range or better. Confirming that the engineers at Ford had done their work well, Rhonda made
1964 the "Year of the T-bolt" as he took the NHRA World Championship by a margin of more than double the points
of his nearest competitor. There were soon many other racing teams campaigning the potent little mid-size Fords
as well, and two of these are key players in this story.
As they say – we told you all that to tell you this.
Pennsylvania’s Rich "Wizard" LaMont is the man behind the wonderful rolling celebration of
drag racing history
known today as 422 Motorsports - a unique Nostalgia Super Stock – F/X drag racing team. Appearing regularly in
National Street Car Association competition, as well as at numerous other Ford-related functions and Nostalgia
Super Stock races, the team’s hauler carries a number of pristine examples of Dearborn’s finest true "factory
hot rods" to thousands of appreciative fans and enthusiasts annually.
along with Larry Bloomer and Dick Gehris, ran a 1963-1/2 Galaxie
lightweight, and later a Thunderbolt,
under the Norristown Ford banner in the early ‘sixties. In addition to the Norristown group, there were several other
Pennsylvania Ford dealerships running competitive teams at the time, among them Koelle-Greenwood Ford,
Al Swenson Ford and Luther Ford. The nucleus of today’s 422 Motorsports team is made up of several members
of these original factory-sponsored teams, and how the paths of these pioneering competitors crossed again
many years later is an interesting tale. LaMont explained how it all came about:
it was just one of those things that stated innocently enough and eventually
took on a life of its own," he said
with a laugh. "When we started our 422 Motorsports Performance shop outside Philadelphia a few years back, I had
Thunderbolt number 73 – the original Norristown Ford car - sitting under a tarp waiting to be restored. I was planning
to fix it up and do a little nostalgia racing with it – nothing serious.
back, the story of how we came to have the old Norristown car in the first place
is pretty interesting," said
LaMont. Back in 1965 one of the mechanics from Norristown Ford, who owned the car, decided to take it racing
at a short little ‘strip here in Pennsylvania called Hatfield Dragway. It was actually the straight of an oval track, so
you can imagine how short the shutdown area was. Anyway, this guy crashed, taking out the timing slip booth in the
process, and the car was pretty twisted up. Later, they took the motor and transmission out of the car and sold the
body to a guy who planned to restore it.
never got around to it, however, and the car sat outside for nearly 10 years
until I finally went and bought it, at
a premium price, of course. It sat around my shop for quite a while after that, until in the early ‘90s I decided to put it
back together just to go out and have a little fun. Once I finally got it back to the track, the car turned a best of 10.01
seconds in the quarter mile at a speed of 134 MPH, and I was happy. I didn’t think there would be too much more
to the project, but how wrong I was.
"Everything pretty much changed the day "Fast"
Fred Henderson walked into the
shop, totally out of the blue,"
LaMont continued. "He used to run a Thunderbolt called "Shazam" for Koelle-Greenwood Ford back when
I worked for the Norristown team, but I hadn’t seen him in 25 years. He told me that he wanted to get into nostalgia
racing, too, and was looking to build a clone of the T-Bolt. We talked it over, and since I already had the Thunderbolt,
I persuaded him to build a replica of "Dyno" Don Nicholson’s ‘64 Comet Cyclone A/FX machine instead. Fred
agreed, and contacted "Dyno" Don to get his permission to use his name on the car, which he gladly gave."
completed, Fred pushed the FE-powered Cyclone to a best of 9.25 at 145 MPH. The car left
the line with its
wheels up, and "Fast" banged the gears just like he did when he campaigned the "Shazam" car back in ‘64. To
say that Henderson was a real character would be a huge understatement according to Thunderbolt historian
and owner) Craig Sutton. Stories of his exploits have reached near legendary status in some circles, and Sutton
gladly shared one of his favorites:
Fred and his brother traveled to DST to pick up "Shazam," they were flat-
towing the car home behind a
‘63 Ford station wagon. At some point, Fred's brother looked back and said ‘The race car isn't back there anymore!’
The car had come off the tow bar and gone down an embankment! The only damage to the T-Bolt was a bent
aluminum front bumper. They straightened it out, but close observation would always reveal a ripple in the left front
side of the bumper. Also, they had mounted an old pair of tires and rims for the tow to save the slicks that came on
the car. Fred didn't know it at the time, but the tires were two different sizes and by the time they got home they
had totaled the Detroit Locker rear."
the rest of the 422 cars and crew, LaMont explained, "After we had my T-bolt and
Fred’s Comet up and
running, my accountant, Frank Pelligreni, decided that he wanted a give nostalgia racing a try himself. We took him
out to the track and let him drive our cars, and he was hooked. Eventually he bought a ‘63-½ Galaxie 427 lightweight,
and we were up to three cars and counting.
little later I decided it would be neat to have a cammer – the famous 427 Single
Overhead Cam engine – under
the hood of one of our cars," LaMont continued. "This was the most powerful engine ever built in Detroit,
producing 657 horsepower. It was almost impossible to drive on the street, and Ford stopped making them after
very few were put into production cars. We originally built a ’64 Falcon with a cammer under the hood, but two
years later we took the engine out, sold the car to Steve Vargo and built our current blue ’65 Falcon.
completed the cammer project, Bob Legge was brought in to drive
the T-bolt while I took over behind
the wheel of the new Falcon. It’s the most technically advanced car on the team, with the 427 Ford SOHC engine,
a sophisticated suspension package and the latest in modern accessory technology. Under National Street Car
Association rules, that car is one of the quickest and fastest Nostalgia Super Stock cars on the planet –having
run a best of 8.88 at 154.13 mph – with a four speed.
"Eventually it got to the point where we had this great bunch of cars, so we
decided to form the 422 Motorsports
team and take our show on the road. The next problem we faced was getting them all to the track. Eventually we
found a tractor-trailer rig for sale by a company that used it to haul prototype cars around for the "Big Three,’ and
we were in business. We spend quite a few weekends on the road during the racing season these days, and fans
really love our collection of vintage Fords."
the "Norristown Ford" Thunderbolt is competently shoed by Ed Youmans, who took over behind
of the group’s flagship car when Legge decided to semi-retire from the sport. The first-year driver wheeled his
historic hot rod to a seventh place finish in NSCA competition in 2004, which Lamont considers to be "pretty good"
in a class which has 50 registered competitors. To be in the top ten in points among all the wily veterans in the
class is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Youman’s crowning achievement in 2004 season was his match-race victory over the
California’s Phil Featherston at South Mountain, as Lamont explained. "Up until that time Phil had claimed to
have the fastest un-tubbed Thunderbolt in the country, but since my car doesn’t have tubs either, and we beat
him, I guess he can’t say that any more. Needless to say, he wants us to come out to California for a return
match, so we’ll have to see what we can arrange after the NSCA season is over."
other members of this interesting crew, the team’s chief fabricator is Lloyd "Dink" Bishop. Dink is a veteran
racer who has never run anything but Ford equipment since he first started going to the track in the 1950's. During
the 1960's Dink worked as a crewmember for "Dyno" Don Nicholson, and still shares a close personal relationship
with him. Dink and LaMont struck up a friendship in the 1960's and it continues today as they share an intense
passion for Nostalgia Super Stock racing.
key member of the team up until his passing was
Dick Gehris of Norristown,
Pennsylvania. Dick was a
line mechanic at the original Norristown Ford Dealership back in 1963 when he teamed up with LaMont
and the late Larry Bloomer to race a factory 1963-1/2 Galaxie. Later, he was part of the team that campaigned
the Thunderbolt that carried the Norristown Ford name. Gehris was instrumental in helping LaMont restore the
old T-Bolt, and had a major hand in the construction of his first 1964 SOHC powered Falcon as well. He was a
great asset to the team, and every time one of their beautiful cars flies down the quarter mile these days, the
spirit of Dick Gehris rides with it.
another vital member of the team is Dave Powers. Among his other duties
with the team, Dave is responsible
for the upkeep and over-the-road activities of the team transporter. Powers has twenty-five years experience
as a professional driver and is entrusted with the precious cargo contained within the team’s impressive big rig.
that’s not all – Fred Henderson sold the Nicholson
Comet to Dave a couple of years ago, and he has driven
it on occasion when the 422 group goes racing. The car has seen very little track time since Powers purchased
it, but the good news is that a major facelift has just about been completed, and it’s expected that the famous
little hot rod will run quite a bit better than it did the first time around, something Dave is looking forward to.
Asamura is another integral part if the 422 crew. In addition to his exceptional
culinary skills, which he often
displays at the track, Bill and Fred Henderson are now actively working on a second Don Nicholson car for the
422 Motorsports stable. All we know right now is that it’s known as the "Duck," and it should be an awesome
car if the group’s past history holds true.
thanks to the inspiration and leadership of LaMont and the 422 team, several
other fantastic Fords
have now become associated with the group. From time to time the core group is joined by Steve Vargo's 1964
427 Falcon, Jake Vargo's 1963 Galaxie, Skip Davis’ 1964 Thunderbolt and John Vermeersch's 1963 SOHC
427 Galaxie. In addition, the 422 team have been instrumental in bringing John DiMino, Jr’s beautiful red
T-bolt to the track recently. John and his sister Stephanie both compete in NSCA Nostalgia Super Stock under
their family’s Black Horse Racing banner. But wait – there’s still more. Recently, Charlie Morris found and
restored the original Norristown Ford ’63-1/2 Galaxie lightweight, which ran a 12-flat elapsed time it’s first time out.
Together, this avid bunch of racer-historians have brought living examples of
some of the best factory muscle
ever built back into the consciousness of those that remember them from days long past. Perhaps even more
importantly, they have opened up a whole new world for the generations of fans that followed, letting them get
up close and personal with some of the people and great hot rods that helped make the sport of drag
racing what it is today.
this large group of people and racing machinery on the road as often as they do
naturally costs a whole
lot of money, and In closing, Rich LaMont wanted to express his gratitude to the following companies for
allowing the 422 Motorsports team to continue bringing this piece of living drag racing history to appreciative
race fans around the country: Sunoco, Moser, Aerospace, Griffin, Mickey Thompson, Auto Meter, Dove
Engineering and Painless Wiring.