2013 First-time Nominee Feature of the Week – Ray Fox
First time NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Ray Fox could be called the “star maker” of NASCAR. He gave the first top flight rides to such legends as Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Buddy Baker. Fox supplied the year-old Chevrolet in which Junior Johnson won the 1960 Daytona 500, the win that put the North Carolina moonshiner on the map. Fox also gave an unknown and untried rookie named David Pearson a chance to win three major events in his first full NASCAR season and set him on the road to stardom. Buddy Baker, the lead-footed second-generation driver, was also a student of the old master Ray Fox. He also took a chance on the veteran driver, Buck Baker, Buddy’s father, back in 1964 at Darlington. Many said that Mr. Baker, at 45, was too old to win a NASCAR race. Fox hired him anyway and Buck Baker picked up his third Southern 500 victory.
The team of Fox and Johnson regularly made headlines during the 1963 NASCAR season with their Chevrolet Impala which utilized the fabled “Mystery Motor”. The little white Chevy with a number 3 on the side was called “the car that Ford Motor Co. spent a million dollars to catch”. A young race fan named Richard Childress was so impressed with this performance that he vowed to use the number 3 on his race car in competition one day.
Ray Fox has spent nearly all of his 95 years around race cars since attending a board track Indy car race as a boy at Salem, N.H. in 1928. He barnstormed around the southeast after WW2, racing modifieds with fellow races Marshall Teague and a teenager named Fireball Roberts. Fox was later named NASCAR Mechanic of the Year for 1956 for helping Buck Baker capture his first NASCAR championship. And after his years as a competitor, Fox became a NASCAR inspector, finally retiring at the age of 80. He can still be found around the pit area at Daytona, meeting old friends and giving advice when asked.