Since World War II the American automobile industry has looked on racing as alluring but loaded with danger—alluring because it conferred glamour on a company's ordinary passenger cars, risky because some Congressmen loudly (and, in our opinion, fallaciously) declared it incompatible with highway safety. Before 1957, a number of automakers openly, albeit nervously, supported stock car racing teams. But that year, fearful of Congress, the manufacturers jointly withdrew from overt speed competition. To dabble in racing under heavy camouflage, however, was irresistible. Last week Henry Ford II struck a welcome blow at undercover racing by declaring the Ford Motor Company out of the 1957 pact, which he said no longer had either purpose or effect. He pointed to a general industry record of more, rather than less, emphasis on "speed, horsepower and racing," and said he felt his company could better establish its "own standards of conduct." Mighty General Motors stood pat. (" Ford's crazy to start this thing again," said one GM man.) Chrysler, smallest of the Big Three, followed Ford out.
The Ford decision was widely judged as meaning that the big Dearborn firm would now launch a bold new racing program. Ford himself said, "We like to have our cars win races." But he said nothing else really specific and may by no means have a racing commitment in mind at this time.
Insiders know that John Holman and Ralph Moody, operating from Charlotte, N.C., have long constituted an unofficial Ford racing team. They build and manage stock cars, one of which recently won the important Atlanta "500." Aggressive, successful Pontiac has an arrangement with Indiana Mechanic-Builder Ray Nichels, Chevy with the former Indianapolis "500" winner Jim Rathmann, Plymouth with Drivers Lee and Dick Petty.
John Holman, who bossed no fewer than eight "factory" Fords per race in the hectic prepact days, said he foresaw no return to the mass-entry era. He believes that "two strong cars" are sufficient for a given race.
As it happens, Holman and Moody were already building a sports-touring Ford even before Mr. Ford spoke out. It is called the Challenger III and is based on the Falcon chassis. It might conceivably take on the world champion Ferrari Grand Touring cars next year at Sebring and Le Mans. We hope it does, with Ford banners flying in the pits for all to see.
The Peewee League baseball game at Artesia, New Mexico was called off the other night after two innings. The adult officials were tired and the 7-year-olds were tired, too. Final score: Pirates 43, Dodgers 22.
SHREWD PREP FOR KELSO
On July 4, Kelso, generally regarded as the best Thoroughbred in the world, will try to become the second horse in 75 years to win two consecutive runnings of the Suburban Handicap. In order to win, though, Kelso must be fit enough to beat Carry Back.
Three weeks ago the two met in the Metropolitan Handicap. Carry Back beat Kelso by eight big lengths. Many observers thought Kelso, away from racing for seven months, had been in need of a preparatory race before the Metropolitan, where he showed that he did not have his mind on his business.