June 21, 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (June 21, 2010) – NASCAR Hall of Fame inaugural nominee Raymond Parks passed away Sunday, June 20 at the age of 96. Parks was the last living member of the pivotal 1947 Streamline Hotel meeting in Daytona Beach, Fla., that led to the formation of NASCAR. Parks’ car, driven by Red Byron, won the sport’s first race and championship, both in 1948. A year later, he further solidified his place in history as the first championship car owner of what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Parks is honored in the following prominent exhibits in the NASCAR Hall of Fame:
Statement from Winston Kelley, NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the sport’s true pioneers, Raymond Parks. His role in the birth of the sport and his contributions to the sustenance and growth of NASCAR are immeasurable. He made these contributions quietly, behind the scenes. Only a select few really know the impact Mr. Parks had on this industry. It is our privilege to acknowledge and honor his incredible legacy in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Parks over the last few years, and he epitomizes the term ‘true southern gentleman’ in every sense. He and his wife visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame prior to the grand opening in May. Among my most cherished memories is seeing Mr. Parks and Richard Petty visit the same day. At one point that afternoon, we unveiled Mr. Parks’ statue. Richard stopped his tour to walk over and watch the unveiling. That simple gesture from ‘The King’ of our sport really shows the respect that the NASCAR community has for Mr. Parks. He will be missed, but his legacy will live forever. Our sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers go to Mrs. Parks and the family.”
Statement from Buz McKim, NASCAR Hall of Fame historian:
“Raymond Parks was a true pioneer of NASCAR. He chose to stay in the background as he supplied the sport with its first championship team. The sport owes him a huge debt of gratitude for what he brought to NASCAR. Few realize he was not only a hero of racing but also an American hero. He spent more than 100 days in a foxhole during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. It is hard to image all he witnessed in his 96 years.”