Recently there were some comments on our Forum about the Ford Talladega bumper and how easy/difficult it is to make your own from a rear Torino/Fairlane bumper. (Note that the front bumper on a Mercury Spoiler II is the same as a Talladega.) Others also joined in and there was additional discussion of the race car T bumpers. This prompted Talladega Guru, Rich Ochs to send me some photos and a story of one of his escapades to hunt down some Talladega parts. The following is Rick’s story with some editing. As things go this also led to Alan Miller sending along some photos of a salvaged Lee Roy Yarborough race car front end, including the bumper. This prized possession was wrestled away from Dr. Cyclone Tom Wilson in some heavy parts swapping.
The photo below shows a collection of parts that make up a Talladega race car bumper. These were provided by Rick Ochs. Thees are provided in more detail below as referenced by the text.
In the photo below note the tubes on each side of the air box. Dryer ducting would be clamped to the tubes, ran over to the front suspension and hooked above and in front of the brakes to force cool air over the brakes on the race cars.
The way I (Rick Ochs) got these parts is a story in itself. Back in the old Speedway Ford days, I went down to a town about a hour and a half from my house. I was going to take pictures of a 1963 Ford light weight. It rained that day and the owner did not want to pull the car outside. He offered to let me take photos inside his garage as an alternative. After taking some pictures the owner took me over to his shop and up some stairs to the largest collection of Ford NOS parts I have ever seen. In part it included Model T tires still in the wrapper, 427 race parts and fenders all NOS. Then he took me to a corner that had some used parts. There on the floor was a set of Talladega race fenders. He was going to use wheel opening area on a Mustang he was building for a local circle track! I made a deal for the end caps so he cut them off for me.
Sometime past and I was told the owner of the lightweight was going to have an auction and was selling most of his Ford stuff along with some cars. A good friend and I hit the road the day of auction. As we entered the yard there were cars with 427’s, 406’s and other high performance Fords for sale. There were also pallet after pallet of oil pans, motor mounts, drive shafts, and more. The biding was by the pallet, no individual parts. I bought a pallet of motor mounts, a group of fan blades, plus a 260 engine with the right number of soft plugs.
Then my buddy said: “Did you see that?” I looked over and there was a pallet of old Nascar Talladega parts including wheel centers for building wide rims, Nascar oil pans finished and parts to weld more together, spindles, headlight doors, the bumper in these pictures and too much to recall. I was shocked.
I waited until they got to that pallet and only one other person remained. He was an older man in a Holman/Moody jacket that looked like it came right our ot the 1960s. I was thinking I am done, I had already bought a lot of pallets. The bidding started and the older man raised his hand, then me. The old man said to me: “Sonny do you know what that stuff is?” I said: “Yes sir, I do.”
He bid again and then me. With that the older man said: “What are you going to do with the bumper?” I said: “I will take it home and hang it on my living room wall!” The old man in that Homan/Moody Jacket looked up at the auctioneer and said: “Let the young fellow have that pallet!” I thanked him, we shook hands and he walked away.
My buddy bought three 1963 Galaxies and I, got three pickup truck loads of pallets and parts for Torino’s.
After I got home I saw the bumper was shipped from J.D. Dewitt racing to a spring company in Detroit. I called the spring company to see what kind of history I could get on the bumper. It turns out the spring company was run by the son of the company’s founder who used to race ARCA. Benny Parsons was his driver before Benny went to J.D. Dewitt. I also found out the son’s father lived about 4 hours from me so I called him to see if we might talk. When I went to visit him, he said his wife went in the Hospital the night before. Although the visit was shorter than planned I did get to spend a few hours with him and I found out he had taken his Talladega race car to Daytona for a ARCA race. Unfortunately, they wrecked the front end. He called Benny and from J.D. Dewitt they shipped overnight the front end off another Talladega to Daytona so they could race.
When he got out of racing the man having the auction bought all the parts that were left.
I cleaned up the oil pan and painted it. During one of Mr. Holbrook’s luncheons I was kidding Mr. Ralph Young about how they used door hinges for baffles inside the oil pan. That oil pan now is signed by Mr. Young and Mr. Hollbrook and hangs in my living room. The bumper is gone, I traded it to a Talladega owner with some of the other parts I had for a mess of Talladega NOS parts, and that is the rest of the story.