My Car Quest

April 24, 2024

Book Review: Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team

Review by Wallace Wyss –

Title: Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team
Publisher: Octane Press (Motorbooks; 1st edition January 5, 2003)
Authors: Tom Cotter & Al Pierce
Language: English
Hardcover: 248 pages
ISBN-10: 0760308756
ISBN-13: 978-0760308752
Item Weight: 3.3 pounds
Dimensions: 10 x 1 x 10 inches

Available from Amazon through this affiliate link

It is a magic name in Ford circles beyond “Shelby” and I was glad to find that
there is a new edition of “Holman Moody: The Legendary Race Team” by Tom Cotter & Al Pearce. The book first appeared in 2003! It follows the company’s rise and fall
without interrupting the narrative with tedious lists of race victories (though it
has that at the end — a list runninh for several pages even listing monies won). The authors interviewed several NASCAR veterans and have some memorable quotes from the racers who raced the cars H & M built.

Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team

A welcome inclusion was a couple pages on the beginnings of the Mustang as a performance car–but they leave out the jewel that the Mustangs sent to H & M to build for rallying in Europe were even pre-production cars, which gave the brand new car a running start right outa the box! It was a brilliant stroke by Ford. The authors say Shelby copied the setup for his Shelby Mustang race cars from these Mustangs which I never read before and that the shop that ran them–Alan Mann Racing–was so mad for not getting credit that, years later, they agreed to run the Cobras in international racing only if Shelby never showed up!

The personalities of the racers–primarily stock car racers are explored, but ironically I know less about Lee Holman and Ralph Moody after reading the book than some of the racers they introduce. Like military service? All the Shelby books include his stint as a pilot.

Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team

Ford Motor Company looms large as the Money Machine/Villain in this book, coming onto the scene with bags of cash and then sometimes disappearing, depending in whether they thought racing was bad for their image.

For me the involvement with the Ford GT was the most interesting, sending “good ol’ boys” to a furrin’ place like France (they brought their own sausages, afraid they wouldn’t like French food) to prepare cars to run against Ferrari. Ford’s philosophy of having three different Ford GT teams for ’66 isn’t explained but it was fun to read that team rivalries was so great H & M hid their prep secrets for Shelby’s crew even though ostensibly they were all on the same team (and maybe Ford’s formula was right–after all, they won!).

Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team

Another memorable story was when Bill France was doubtful some car with an extended nose was production, H & M arranged for him to sit and count them as they rolled by at a Ford factory. At least 100 had to be built. But they paraded by only 40 some, driving them round the building to get back in line and be counted over. (Too bad Shelby couldn’t have done that with the 427 Cobra, which failed to get homologated as a production car because 100 hadn’t been made by the time the FIA inspector showed up).

There’s much talk of engines in this book, including some I don’t remember but are worth remembering as they may be laying about some NASCAR garage in storage. When Ford finally pulls out of supporting stock car racing, the book winds down to portraying a small hobbyist business, but at least, if you’re a customer, you find that some of the same talents that built the originals are now working on replicas. Their description of the Ford GT Mk.II H & M builds now waffles on whether they are replicas but they do say the FIA approves them to be run in vintage racing, so they aren’t just decorative show room draws.

Some chapters I didn’t see worth being there–the Can Am car supported by Paul Newman, never accomplished anything but I think got a lot of space because, well, Newman was a movie star. You see the same thing in Cobra books, even my own–Steve McQueen with the car though he never owned one.

Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team

But then maybe I’m spoiled–a complete picture of a race car company includes not only just the winners but some of the losers. One car I was looking for that isn’t mentioned in the book is a sports car that was a sort of wanna be competitor for the Ghia 450SS, Chrysler 273 powered, built in Italy and imported to the US. It was sometimes called Omega and, after H &M involvement, the Italia. The original car was commissioned by car dealer Jack Griffith but when he abandoned it, it was picked up by car magazine writer Steve Wilder who went to Holman Moody to build out the coupes with Ford V8 engines.

Well that can be in the next edition. There’s a tantalizing paragraph that says H & M was pressed into service to re-do the chassis of the newly imported Panteras but it doesn’t say how many cars they redid or what the problem was.

Holman-Moody’s powerboat and drag racing forays are covered as well. Some pretty special boats were powered by H & M built engines, even some for the King of Jordan!

In sum, the book fills a void about the Southern US contribution to racing in America– Holman & Moody was the model shop for decades. If you like NASCAR, you’ll love the book. For fans of the other racing series like European racing, not so much. The print quality is excellent, and there are many good pictures. I’d rate it at 85% for a car racing book.

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is a car historian, having written several books on Shelby and Ford endurance racing.


Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team

Book Review: Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team
Article Name
Book Review: Holman & Moody The Legendary Race Team
This book fills a void about the Southern US contribution to racing in America-- Holman & Moody was the model shop for decades. If you like NASCAR, you'll love this book.


  1. denny mather says

    i had a hm shirt in 1965 and wore it out working on all my 65 66 mustangs love those guys. Dannys Mustangskitchener onttario the great white north..

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