Drag Racing

Updated 18 Apr 2003

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The Norristown 1963 Ford Galaxie

The "Norristown Ford" 1963 1/2 lightweight Galaxie was one of the "production" lightweights assembled at the Norfolk, Virginia plant on April 25 1963. It was shipped by rail and truck to the dealership of record, Norristown Ford in Norristown, Pennsylvania. The car arrived with a truck load of Falcons, station wagons and Thunderbirds being delivered to the dealer. The dealer sponsored race team was to be Rich LaMont (engines/tuning) Dick Gehris (drive train) and Larry Bloomer (driver). Ford documentation lists the lightweight Galaxies as being equipped with fibreglass doors, however the Norristown Ford and most of the other "production" cars did not get them due to a shortage. Early modifications to the car included a Hurst shifter, Belanger Brothers headers and Traction master traction bars. Super Stock rules limited the car to a seven inch wide "cheater" slick rear tire which meant that the tire must show some amount of tread (usually two grooves around the tire).

Contrary to history widely printed in American car magazines, which states that the lightweight Galaxies were not competitive and won no National events in 63 (there were just two national events then) the Norristown Ford and many others like it were winning weekly on drag strips all across the U.S.

The Norristown Ford won it's class; Super Stock ten straight weeks and scored many Top Stock Eliminator victories.

Elapsed times were normally in the mid to low twelve second range at about 115 mph. The car also set an NHRA Super Stock mile per hour record in 1963.

Near the end of it's racing career the Norristown Ford broke into the eleven-second range.

It was eventually replaced by a 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt and sat behind the dealership into early 1965. Following the Thunderbolt being wrecked in a racing accident the drive train was bolted into the old Galaxie which was painted Rangoon red and sold as a used car.

The buyer raced the car on the street and eventually blew the engine. While sitting at a local shop, awaiting repair the car was repossessed by the bank for non-payment of the loan. The history of the car becomes somewhat cloudy at this point but it appears that someone else owned and raced the car for a period of time. Twenty-two years ago the car was discovered in a junkyard in Cecil County Maryland by Jerry Cook. Recognising what the old Galaxie was Jerry bought it and took it home in order to restore it for nostalgia drag racing. The project was never completed and in 2001 Rich LaMont authenticated the car for me and I purchased it from Jerry. After thirty-seven years the Norristown Ford was back home.

The car has been restored to appear as it did in 1963 with the exception of ladder bar rear suspension. It is powered by a Rich La Mont prepared 427 with Edelbrock aluminium medium riser heads re-worked by Ram Racing. TRW pistons, Eagle H-beam connecting rods and a Ford steel crankshaft make up the rotating assembly. A tunnel wedge intake manifold mounts two original Holley carburettors. A .700 lift roller cam and roller stabilised rocker arms complete the valve train. Ignition is by MSD. The rear carries a 4.86 spool with 33-spline Strange EGR axles in a nodular iron case. A Len Tech Automatic Overdrive transmission adapted to the FE will be used for the first year's competition, after which it will be replaced by a four speed. For the 2003 racing season the Norristown Ford lightweight Galaxie will join the now restored Norristown Ford Thunderbolt and the other cars of the 422 Motorsports Nostalgia Drag Racing team of Oaks, Pennsylvania (click here for web page).

Charlie Morris

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Norristown Ford the way it was - a Photo of the car taken at the dealership prior to departing for the '63 U.S. Nationals



Norristown Ford the way it is - now restored to its former glory



©2003 - The Ford Galaxie Club of Australia Inc.Reproduction with permission