Under Danny's leadership,...
Under Danny's leadership, for the first time, Ford topped NASCAR's point standing in 1956. But almost at the same time Danny wanted to show Fords were not only fast but reliable. Using two identical '56 Fords traveling for 24 hours around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Danny set an endurance record of 107 mph, including fuel stops: "We drove two identical cars around the Speedway-in case one failed, we could keep the record attempt going. Johnny Mantz and Chuck Stevenson drove one and Chuck Diegh and I drove the other. We started the Fords both at the same time to keep things legitimate."
The "King's" Dad
"I put together a race team down south for NASCAR and I got Lee Petty (Richard's dad) to leave Plymouth and go to Dodge. Lee was a short-track racer," Danny continues. "The short wheelbase Dodge with the Hemi engine was right up his alley, but I had to convince him of that because Plymouth didn't have an offering yet.
"I told Lee I wanted to meet with him. He said, 'Why don't you come over for lunch?' The family lived in an old farmhouse, with a quarter-mile racetrack around the property on about a 100-acre farm. They all sat at this long table in the kitchen and ate every meal together, plus everybody in the neighborhood who was in the racing business was invited to eat with them as well. They were real wonderful people and I felt right at home. I offered Lee a Dodge and three engines. We shook on it."
Lee won five races with the 241-inch Dodge Red Ram Hemi engine in 1953 and Danny was the man behind the scenes who made it happen. Lee became NASCAR Champion in 1954.
"On the West Coast I got Marvin Panch from Oakland, California, to drive for Dodge in 1954." Danny was on a roll, heading to Bonneville setting 196 AAA Stock Car speed records to cement Dodge's place in the high-performance market.
Danny put together a team of drivers in 1956, including 1952 Indy 500 winner Troy Ruttman, Jimmy Jackson, Bill Taylor, and Danny Oakes (Midget racer and dry lake competitor). "We ran 10-mile circles on four-hour shifts in 1956, covering 30,000 miles, averaging 150 mph in just eight days at Bonneville." Then Danny was off to the Mexican Road Race.
Danny has a reason to smile...
Danny has a reason to smile because with his guidance Dodge broke 196 American Automobile Association (AAA) speed records at Bonneville in 1953. He followed that with the same red Ram Hemi-powered Coronet with 102.62 mph at El Mirage.
Ol' Home Week
The Carrera Panamericana (Mexican Road Race) was the brainchild of the Mexican government to celebrate the compilation of the Pan American Highway beginning in Tuxtla Gutierrez ending in Ciudad Juarez (near El Paso) for a total of 2,135 miles. The race took place over six grinding days and Danny was there:
"We had 10 Dodges and won the first seven places. Instead of trying to build the cars on the assembly line for the Mexican Road Race we supplied suspension kits, special cams, and the like to dealers because the factory didn't want to be involved, they wanted the Dodge dealers to be involved. I headquartered out of the Dodge dealership in Juarez."
Danny's friend, Midget racer and dry lake competitor Bill Stroppe, who was contracting for Ford (they both ran the Mobile Economy Run), was there with the Lincoln team. Dodge's team swept the Light Stock Class field by finishing First, Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, and Ninth. Even the mighty Lincoln team who finished First in the Stock Car class had to take notice in 1954.
Two former dry lake racers,...
Two former dry lake racers, Danny Eames and Phil Remington, were charged with Ford's advertising campaign of driving a '58 prototype around the world in 80 days to coincide with Mike Todd's movie of the same name. (Todd died in 1958.) Here they are in Afghanistan where camel caravans of 50 or more were routinely encountered almost hourly. The animals proved skittish and were difficult to pass along the country's version of a road. The trip took 119 days to complete in 1957.
What are the odds that fellow Alhambra classmates would be down participating in the same event? Ray Crawford drove a Lincoln and finished First in class that year and Don Francisco was covering the event for Hot Rod magazine as technical editor. "We laughed about that a lot. What the hell are we all doing down here?" In all, Danny proved that factory Dodges with the Hemi engine were economical, fast, and reliable.
Get Outta Dodge
Danny was traveling home from Phoenix when tragedy stuck on Mother's Day. "Fifty miles out of Blythe a car hit me head-on, killed both of those people, and killed my wife. Chrysler was real indifferent about it and that pissed me off."
"I used to talk to this Ford guy who said 'if you ever decide to leave Chrysler I'd like to talk to you. But before you do, send your boss a telegram, tell him you're terminating, and you send me a copy, then you're legal.' You didn't steal people back in those days in Detroit. They had a code of ethics."
Danny joined Ford, which wasn't up to speed in the racing business when it came to NASCAR like Chrysler. Ford wanted Danny to get them there.