Blood, Sweat & Gears. The Story of the Gray Ghost and the Junkyard FIrebird

General Fiction

By David Barnes

Publisher : Telemachus Press

Blood, Sweat & Gears.  The Story of the Gray Ghost and the Junkyard FIrebird

ABOUT David Barnes

David Barnes
A Detroit area investment advisor and licensed attorney, David G. Barnes spent over two decades working in the American automobile industry with hundreds of automotive engineers, including Herb Adams, the father of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and main character of Blood, Sweat & Gear More...


In 1971, could a little group of unknown automotive engineers independently design and build a race car from an old 1964 Pontiac sedan and really compete against professional, factory-backed racing teams? Blood, Sweat & Gears is based on the true story of a small group of GM Pontiac Division engineers who did just that - they independently created a race car in 1970 from an old 1964 Pontiac Le Mans with 80,000 miles on its odometer. Without factory support and on a shoestring budget, they seriously competed in the 1971 televised Trans-Am road racing circuit against professional, well-financed, factory-backed racing teams and won the hearts of fans and the press, who dubbed their car the "Gray Ghost." The following year they did it again, starting with a wrecked Firebird from a junkyard, and shocked the racing world at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Blood, Sweat & Gears is an inspiring, fact-based underdog story of hard work, ingenuity and competitive American grit that has never before been fully told.

In the words of George Steinbrenner, "Don't talk to me about aesthetics or tradition…what the American people like, is to think the underdog still has a chance."

I grew up during the era of the Detroit muscle car. In the evenings I could hear them racing down Woodward Avenue, now home to the annual "Dream Cruise." Anyone who has a passion for cars will enjoy this story. It is an "historical" account of a series of events most likely impossible to replicate today. Passion and skill driving success against the odds. The story is also interspersed with concurrent historical references from the world of politics and pop culture that will take you back to the glory days of the big V-8 engines. And for all the "gear heads" out there, how Adams and his team pulled this off is explained in a way you will truly enjoy.

~ Steve Keyes

This is a book for frustrated engineers, for NASCAR enthusiasts who want to know what goes into winning a race, for someone who wants to win any kind of a race! It’s for anyone who has put heart and soul into working towards a goal and needs inspiration to stick with it, to see it to the end! I learned about “muscle cars” – what they are and why they are revered!
I got completely caught up in the race, in the possibility of winning. I developed an appreciation for the many facets that go into building a winning racecar, and the satisfaction the builders got from not winning, but just getting through the race. The author showed me the importance of each person on the team, from the guy with the original idea, to each of the gifted engineers who used their unique skills to perfect each facet of the engine’s parts, to the driver who skillfully knew how to play the field of drivers and bring his car to the finish line!

~ Susanne Fox

I found the book very enjoyable and a quick read. Having had the opportunity see and actually work on the Grey Ghost it brought back some fond memories. Perhaps a bit more insight into the proper racing/engineering terminology for some aspects of the book might have given it a bit more credibility, but overall it will be interesting for the non-racer and enjoyable for those who know and love racing. It has great character builds and shows some of the "behind the scenes" results for those of us who pursued the elusive siren of "speed" in a more pure time for racing where capability and dedication sometimes DID overcome money and connections. We know about depleted bank accounts, overgrown lawns and evenings where the family meal was peanut butter and jelly. I truly enjoyed the book and I think most will.

~ John Crawford

This book shows what hard work and dedication can accomplish. The team that built and raced these cars were truly up against long odds. The book is written so that you can understand the process of building a car even if your are not a automotive enthusiast. If you like David verses Goliath stories then this book is for you. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

~ Tom Gollotto

Turning a 7 year old grocery shopper (Pontiac Tempest) with over 80,000 miles into a Trans Am racer against brand new pony cars is not on everyone's to do list. How that is accomplished involves persistent engineering and mechanical skills, hard work, diverted income, self and family sacrifices and just the right amount of humor. You will feel the need to race to the end to see what happens.

~ Sherwood A. Cole, MD

What a great story! A uniquely American underdog tale that will have you cheering out loud for Herb Adams and his unknown yet superior team of methodical gear heads. A hand-picked team of brilliant yet under-recognized automotive engineers who were only one chance and one charismatic leader away from shocking the world. This is a terrific book, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Like a veteran author, Dave douses you with tragedy, teases you with humor, weaves in a little historical perspective, and then brings it all together with intrigue and suspense. All with some local Motown flavor and automotive charm. Blood, Sweat & Gears: The Story of The Gray Ghost and The Junkyard Firebird is a story that needed to be told. Thank you, Dave, for telling it so well!

~ Richard G. Raymond

This book's wonderful story is a real life example of how true American entrepreneur exceptionalness works. A small team of optimistic talented automobile engineers took an idea and built two race cars from junk cars
which were able to out perform race cars from major automotive competitors.  Through out the reading of this story I found the author made me an on site observer of this team whether it was in Adams garage or in the race track pits or with the drivers themselves in the race cars on the track.  I recommend this book for a good read.

~ Anonymous

When I was a young teenager I lived in Menands, NY, the kids in Menands would sit on a hill outside the Empire Raceway quarter mile track and watch the races on weekdays and watch drive in movies after dark in the same stop during the weekend.  Most of us kids moved on to colleges in various places away from the track while one of us was able to get a car, work on it and race it.  This book took me back to that time. If you are into automotive mechanics, you will appreciate the engineering feats that these engineers did to modify two cars. Even if you are not into automotive mechanics, this is a great story of team effort and dedication.  You feel you are there with the team experiencing the excitement and the problems with the cars.  This is an inspiring story of dedication, determination and pride, as well as the loyalty they created.  Creating a race car of high caliber,without the backing and funds that most participants had, impressed the race world.  I felt I was right there with the race team.  I felt the suspense of every race and enjoyed the humor at the Canadian restaurant with the French speaking waitress and the Canadian garage where communication was so difficult.  I also felt the sacrifice of family life while they pulled this off.  It is a well told and an engrossing story that any race enthusiast or "gear head" would enjoy.

~ Anonymous