Nash Race Cars
Compiled by Bob Wilmoth #1383 with a special thanks to Gene and Grimes Holcomb Jr. and Bill Bowman for their help. The race cars shown were owned and raced by Harford Nash Sales in Aberdeen, Maryland.
What do you do if you are a Nash Dealer and one of your sons builds a 1932 Ford coupe stock car, named “Little Iodine”, after the mischievous cartoon character, and races it at the local tracks? You do what Grimes Holcomb Sr., his oldest son , Lee and a couple of family friends did. You build a Nash race car. This 1938 coupe was first driven by Pete Moxley, a local farmer. The car was eventually wrecked too badly to be fixed so Harford Nash then built a 1936 coupe. By this time Mr. Holcomb had convinced his son Gene, who like his father was also a mechanic at the dealership, to sell the Ford and start driving the 1936 Nash coupe. These cars were transported to the races on the back of the 1948 Nash tow truck. The Nashes did very well against the numerous Ford flathead V8s of the era and were very popular with many of the dealers customers.
In 1954 Harford Nash Sales purchased two new Ramblers and raced them in the NASCAR Short Track Division. Gene drove the number 34 and Pete Moxley drove the number 58. Pete took a year away from his farm and toured the NASCAR circuit while Gene just did the local tracks in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Later, Grimes Holcomb Jr. (NCCA member #1460) picked up the ownership of the #58 and his best friend Bill Bowman, also a mechanic at the dealership, drove for him. These two Ramblers used altered Ambassador rears and front springs and the Statesman aluminum head with the dual carburetors. Many a time after running one and two, and nearly lapping the rest of the field, they would be torn down and inspected only to find that they were totally stock. To be stock, you could use anything listed in the factory manuals that could be purchased over the counter and would fit a particular car. In this case the Statesman setup would fit the Rambler engine.
Pete Moxley with the first 1938 Nash
The 1938 Nash meets its end at the Mason/Dixon Speedway in southeastern Pennsylvania.
A proud father and his son: Grimes Holcomb Sr. and his son Gene after winning the feature event at Mason/Dixon Speedway in Pennsylvania. Mr. Holcomb was the founder of Harford Nash Sales. He loved being a mechanic and left the operation of the business to his sons Lee, Gene, and Grimes Jr.. He had a daughter and another son who did not work in the business. Notice that the windshield could be slid to the side if it got too dirty to see through. The little panel on the hood was to deflect the dirt and mud away from the windshield. This shows the single downdraft carburetor engine. The light tank on the firewall, behind the air cleaner is a water/alcohol tank that fed into the base of the carburetor.
This is Gene and a valued customer Barry Lerch, who also served as a pit crew person, after winning another race at Mason /Dixon Speedway. Notice the dual carburetors. This engine used the Healey camshaft and aluminum head with the dual SU side draft carburetors. The screen kept mud and large pieces of debris from clogging the air filters.
This is a narrowed and shortened 1939 Nash coupe built and driven by Norman Rose, the body man at
Harford Nash. The body actually sat inside the frame rails. Ralph Hall, a mechanic there did the mechanics and helped with the maintenance of the car. A broken gas line did it in at the Ritchie Raceway in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
Here is the debut of the two 1954 Ramblers at the Mason/Dixon Speedway.
The #34 was driven by Gene Holcomb and #58 by Pete Moxley. The man in front of #58 wearing the light cap owned a 1951 Ambassador Super 2 door with the Lemans engine. It had two Carter WA1 down draft carburetors, heavy duty suspension and bigger brakes from the factory. I have never seen another one like it. I understand it was offered as a police package.
The Ramblers racing two early Plymouths in 1954. That is masking tape on the front of the Ramblers to offer some protection from debris.
Pete Moxley spins at Bowman-Gray Stadium, NC in 1954. That is Jim Reed in the #7 Hudson.
He was the NASCAR Short Track Division Champ in 1955. Pete said that all of the NASCAR competitors were very helpful. They gave him suggestions on how to keep the Rambler competitive.
The Ramblers running 1&2 in 1955. This was typical of their positions on the short tracks. Bill Bowman, a mechanic at Harford Nash began driving the #58 in 1955. His long time friend Grimes Holcomb Jr. picked up ownership of the car.
This is Grimes Jr. preparing to tow to the 1955 Darlington 500 in Darlington, South Carolina. The car qualified at 92.376 mph. During the race, they made only one pit stop to change three tires and fill up with gas. According to Nov. 1955 Motor Trend “ the car ran flawlessly throughout the race....”. It finished 30th out of a field of sixty. The Rambler consistently turned laps at 85 mph according to Motor Trend. A Chevrolet driven by Herb Thomas won running the new V8 introduced that year. The tow car is a 1949 Ambassador. The lettering and numbers were painted on the car by Bob Wilmoth #1383.
Hooked up and ready for Darlington
Here is the Rambler in the pits at Darlington SC.
Here we have both cars with the drivers and owners after running one and two at Wilmington Delaware. L to R; Bill Bowman, the track owner, Gene Holcomb, Grimes Holcomb Jr., Grimes Holcomb Sr., Barry Lerch, and Mack Caudill. Barry and Mack were part of the pit crew.
Gene Holcomb taking the inside on a Plymouth.
Bill Bowman racing two Hudson Hornets.
This is Bill Bowman’s personal1957 Rambler Custom V8. He and Grimes Jr. drove it to Daytona Beach for Speedweek in February 1957. It is the car that was mentioned in the April 1957 Motor Trend article by Joe Wherry, “Rambler Rebel, drivescription” on page 27. Mr. Wherry drove and was quite impressed with the performance of the car with it’s 327 engine that Bill and Grimes installed. This car later received a Nash Healey floor shift unit.