Danny and Phil Remington (right) fueling one of the Ford support trucks in Afghanistan. Mo
Pete De Paolo (1925 Indy 500 winner in a Duesenberg) was running Bill Stroppe's racing team in Long Beach and wanted Danny's help. "I hired John Holman, who was working next door on Spring Street as a mechanic at a Lincoln-Mercury dealer, and I put him down in Charlotte. In turn, John hired Ralph Moody who was an excellent chassis man and a hell of a race driver. Between the two of them, they put together Holman and Moody (H&M), which was a roaring success."
H&M became the official racing contractor for Ford, amassing drivers like Mario Andretti, the late Jimmy Clark, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, Richard Petty, Parnelli Jones, and Al and Bobby Unser, to name just a few.
"I got called into Mr. [Lee] Iacocca's office one day. He said, 'We have a job for you. Michael Todd has just made a movie-Around the World in Eighty Days-and Todd has licensed Ford to use that name and announcement of our '58 Ford (this was in January 1957). We want you to drive a '58 Ford around the world. Can you do that?' I said sure! I didn't have the slightest idea how I was going to do that," Danny laughs. "We've been into this thing a couple of months and we don't," Iacocca replied.
"We [Ford PR man and J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency rep] went on a reconnaissance trip. We went flying around the world. When we returned I told Iacocca there's no problem in getting the car around the world, the problem was fuel. Iacocca had talked to Standard Oil, Ford's supplier at the factory, who wasn't structured to furnish fuel around the world. Of course all of this was confidential."
Yep, you guessed it, that's Steve McQueen the road racer, seeking Danny's expertise on a w
Danny had become friends with Frank Maunier, the head of sales promotion for Mobil Oil, when he was in the Economy Run. With a Ford attorney present and emphasizing that their conversations couldn't go beyond those four walls, a deal was struck on a handshake.
Mobil would supply fuel and oil around the world. A Mobil representative would meet the Ford drivers at each border to handle the passports, visas, currency exchanges, plus whoever spoke the language would take them to the next border and hand them off to the next rep with the same qualifications and so on. Mobil would get exposure in their ads and vice versa.
"I had a '58 Ford prototype, which was handmade, about a $1 million car. Ford didn't have any sheetmetal parts for us in case we crashed or broke them. They weren't that far down the road on the car yet, but they had what was called a pilot car. That's the first car that goes down the assembly line and it takes about a day to build it. So they gave me the pilot car for spare parts.
Of course Danny would drive one of the '58 Fords when they embarked in 1957. Danny then asked his friend Phil Remington to be his chief mechanic (Remington, 90 still works at Dan Gurney's All American Racers), and to drive one of the Fords, plus three other drivers.
"We had to look 100 percent, appearance-wise, all the time. If the cars got skinned up or damaged we had paint, thinner, and welding outfits, so we could fix anything," Remington states.
"I worked for Pete De Paolo at the time," Remington says, "but I met Danny when we worked at Eddie Meyer."
The group Danny assembled was a virtual army: Two 1-ton Ford 4x4 custom-built trucks (Ford didn't make a 4x4, according to Danny); with fore and aft winches, dual fuel tanks, 110 gallons of water per truck, generators, drivers, tools, spare parts, everything to fix the cars, and a camera crew from Disney.
"We were gone about 119 days instead of the 80 days, they stopped a lot and the film crew took a lot of pictures," Remington continues. "We had to get the car back to the United States and we couldn't fit the whole car in the Douglas C 54."
Danny had gotten a telegram from Ford; they needed the prototype back in Detroit for promotional photos. A smaller DC4 cargo plane arrived at the Burma airport instead of the promised DC6.