In order to beat track restrictions on carburetors, L. O. Stanley built an engine manifold in which he could hide two extra carburetors.

The Holman & Moody racing organization recognized L. O. Stanley’s genius and temporarily lured him away from Patrick County.

L. O. Stanley was Southwest Virginia’s most innovative engine builder. Born in Carroll County, Stanley opened his garage in the Meadows of Dan community in 1948. In 1950 he attended his first oval track race in Concord, North Carolina, and returned to tell his wife, “I can build a motor that can outrun any of them.” Within a year Stanley’s first race car was competing. The famed Floyd County racer, Curtis Turner, drove some of Stanley’s first stock cars. Stanley’s engines were strong racing performers, and he later worked as an engine builder for the Holman-Moody racing organization in Charlotte, North Carolina, and for the Ford Motor Company.

Among his innovations, L. O. Stanley invented a cross-fire engine, in which two cylinders fire at the same time. In order to build such an engine, he had to turn his own crankshafts and rework practically every part of the motor. Stanley even had special pistons cast at a Marion (Smyth County) foundry. The cross-fire engine was eventually outlawed in racing. At another time, to skirt a rule limiting oval track engines to one carburetor, Stanley adapted a Ford intake manifold to hide two carburetors inside the motor.

Both drag racers and oval track racers used Stanley’s engines, and two of his 420 cubic inch flathead engines survive today. L. O. Stanley’s reputation in the Southeast stock car racing world became legendary, and the mechanic known as the “man on the mountain” is still remembered as the genius of regional engine building.

Chapter 7 »
The Legendary Curtis Turner

Acknowledgements | Ferrum College and the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum | Contact