The Purple Hog
Ford Motor Company got serious about stock car racing in 1955. Ford retained Indy 500 ace Peter Depaolo to head up their racing program. DePaolo signed up four of NASCAR's brightest stars to drive: Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Ralph Moody, and Marvin Panch. The new Ford team was painted a bright purple and white for Schwam Motor Co. of Charlotte, NC, so they were nicknamed the Purple Hogs. The Ford team won 19 out of 56 events in 1956. Curtis Turner won the Southern 500 of Darlington. This car is owned by Jerry Lawrence of Hunter, New York and is on loan to the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame.
Early in 1955, Ford cars had just one NASCAR victory since the series began in 1949. Meanwhile, Chevrolet was advertising its wins and attracting customers. As a countermeasure, Ford formed its first NASCAR factory team and built two cars. They were powered by the new overhead-valve 'Y block' V8 engine. In stock trim, with a four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, it produced 182 horsepower. The cars were painted a vivid purple, which caricatures of snorting wild boars on the front fenders.
The first race for Ford drivers Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly was the 1955 Southern 500 - then the biggest NASCAR race of the year. Weatherly started ninth and Turner 15th, but they charged to the front and Turner led laps 110 to 123 before his front suspension broke.
Weatherly took over and led a total of 138 laps until he suffered the same fate on lap 317.
Even though both cars dropped out, they had shown Ford's potential. The next year, Turner came back and won the Southern 500 in his 1956 version of the Ford 'Purple Hog.'
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