Every month we try to bring you some detailed information about one of our Team Members’ cars. They can range from project cars to 100 point show cars, street modified or daily drivers. This month we have a very special treat for you, it is a LeeRoy Yarbrough NASCAR Tribute car owned by Richard Hille. The following story and photos were provided by Richard. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
This build began with an original 48,000 mile Talladega. The car was in Very Good, Original Condition. The car showed no signs of rust or prior damage. Several years were spent looking for a car in this condition. There are no patch panels or rust repair on this car. All panels are the originals.
The base Wimbledon White paint was very straight forward. The accompanying lettering and decals on the car were a labor of love. From volumes of original literature the best photographs of LeeRoy’s cars were chosen. From these photos slides were made and the fun began. A professional air brush artist was hired to lay down the paint. The slides were then projected onto the car in full size so the layout would be exact. Each of the original numbers and letters was reproduced on the car exactly. Even the roof numbers are correct! The decals were reproduced and laid out in the correct positions. The end product is as near of an exact reproduction as possible.
Perhaps the most impressive and hardest of all the details was the acquisition of the ‘Gurney Flap’ (rear spoiler). Extreme efforts were made to find an original with no success. Since this item consists of 3 pieces of gas-welded aluminum, done by hand, not just anyone could make them correctly. After much research one of the original Holman & Moody fabricators was found! He still had the correct measurements and not only produced the flap, but also made the cowl induction pieces too! Since that time he has passed away and this craft has died with him, never to be produced again.
The other tinwork on the car was done by a current NASCAR Truck series tech, using photos of the original cars. The results speak for themselves. Correct touches such as the materials used on the rear bumper air-deflectors were painstakingly sourced. The material used on the originals is none other that the aluminum sheeting used to produce the freezer section in the 1960’s refrigerators. A single 4’x8’ sheet was located down south and had to be bought for these two small deflectors and one dash component!
The grilles in many of these cars were un-chromed units. You can imagine what 40 years of weather would do to unprotected pot-metal. So the original grille was powder coated to mimic the original un-plated finish. The bulb-seal that the street Talladegas wore was replaced with the correct seal. The headlights were removed on the race cars and 3 of the sockets were covered with aluminum sheeting as has been done. The 4th light which was the inboard unit of the driver’s side was left open with a wire screen to allow for a cool source of air for the oil cooler. The center portion of the grill used wire mesh to filter debris from the incoming air. All of these points were painstakingly recreated.
These cars were the last to be raced with the factory glass still in place. To keep the original glass in place, braces were fabricated to hold the rear window in, as well as to keep the front window out! All of these pieces have been reproduced exactly will be installed in the future.
The roll-cage was reproduced as close as possible to the original with the exception of adding a passenger compartment. The double door bars, hoop, halo, etc all were replicated very tastefully.
As for the interior, the seats originally used were from the 67 Mustang. These low-back seats were acquired and re-covered as the originals in black leather with the correct pattern and stitching. The ‘side-bolsters’ needed to keep the driver in place with matching head rests were painstakingly reproduced and covered in the matching black leather.
In the race cars a sheet-metal dash replaced the original. Staying true to the original cars a correct dash was fabricated using original measurements. The correct Stewart Warner gauges were acquired and are being prepared to be installed in the car. Perhaps one of the coolest pieces on this car is an Original Tachometer from one of David Pearson’s Talladegas. This tach is one of the earliest ‘Tattle-Tale’ tachs. It recorded the highest rpm the engine attained on a secondary needle. This secondary needle could only be reset with a key, which was kept by the crew-chief. If the driver over-revved the engine he could not hide it!
In keeping with the original interior appearance the headliner and door panels were removed. The headliner was not replaced but the door panels received sheet-aluminum in their place. These pieces are high quality and fit very nicely.
The engine consists of the very first parts acquired for this project. Unbelievably, a NOS NASCAR Block was found, part #C9AE-E. The NASCAR and other competition blocks had the ’O’ ring grooves cut into the block rather that the cylinder heads as the street engines had. The crank too, was an NOS piece. The cylinder heads were mildly ported and polished. They have 2.40 intake and 1.94 exhaust valves. Sitting on top of the heads are a restored pair of ultra-rare Magnesium valve covers. The rods are correct NASCAR pieces with a machined oil groove for the piston pin. ARP made a one-off custom set of the 1⁄2” rod bolts. The pistons are J&E forgings that with the cylinder heads combine for a compression ratio of 11.5 to 1. The intake manifold is an original NASCAR casting that had the restrictors in place. Keeping with the true early 69 non- restricted spirit, they were removed. The carburetor is a correct Holley Dominator. Crower produced the cam to ‘Short-Track’ specs. The oil pan is a Canton Road Race oil pan that has been adorned with the H&M logo to appear as an original. A complete oil cooler assembly with Ford X and H&M part numbers was installed as well. The engine was assembled using all NOS gaskets. The engine was completed in the late 90’s at a cost of over $30,000. To build this engine today would easily cost over $50,000.
The engine breaths through a set of custom made headers and 3 1⁄2” exhaust. The sound is incredible!
The transmission is a correct NASCAR Super Top Loader with Hurst linkage. The transmission has been completely rebuilt and stenciled with the 98 car number. The flywheel is H&M aluminum with an iron insert.
Out back the rear end housing was re-created as the originals were. The recipe of a Lincoln big bearing housing complete with its 11” drum brakes was modified with extensive and correct bracing was fitted with a Nodular case filled with a Detroit locker and 3.25 gears. Moser supplied the race-hardened axles. An oil cooler system just like the race cars was fitted including an external pump that is belt driven off of the driveline. Cooler lines run into the cockpit through the floor pan via bulkhead fittings. A tank for the lube sits just behind the driver
The wheels are a set of original steel NASCAR race wheels that have been restored.
The tires are a set of reproduction ‘Blue Streaks’ that were custom made. It took over 7 months to have these made! If you have never felt this tire/wheel combo they are incredibly light!
The car has a presence few people have ever experienced. Hearing, or rather feeling, the car rumble to life makes you respect the souls of men who piloted these production line cars to speeds of 200mph!