Ray Fox made a mark in NASCAR in multiple ways. Starting in the sport as an engine builder, he prepared some of the winningest cars in the sport’s first two decades of competition. He then voyaged into team ownership for a period before closing out his career as a NASCAR official. His multiple roles offered Fox a unique perspective on the sport as he worked with teams in the garage. Here are five reasons Fox could be a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Legend in the making
Fox grew up in New Hampshire, seeing cars race for the first time at Rockingham Park near Salem, N.H. After a stint in the U.S. Army in World War II, Fox moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., to work as an auto mechanic – a step that vaulted him into the world of NASCAR as he went to work for Robert Fish’s Fish Carburetor and began building engines for NASCAR drivers.
In 1955, Fox built the engine for Fish’s Buick that was driven by Fireball Roberts on the Daytona road and beach course. Roberts led the entire race and won, though his car was later destroyed for an unapproved modification in another area. Still, the dye had been cast for Fox and a legendary career was launched. A year later, Fox went to work for Carl Kiekhaefer. They won 22 of the season’s first 26 races with cars driven by Herb Thomas, Buck Baker and Speedy Thompson. Baker went on to win the championship and Fox gained notice as he was named mechanic of the year.
In 1960, Fox opened his own engine shop. He built Junior Johnson’s 1960 Daytona 500-winning entry as Johnson discovered how to draft. Another future Hall of Famer, then-NASCAR rookie of the year David Pearson (whose car is seen here) won three times driving his Fox-built Pontiac.
Taking on new role
Two years later Fox took another step and became a car owner. He won nine times with Junior Johnson and twice with Buck Baker. Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen and Charlie Glotzbach were among those that competed in his cars. For his overall career, Fox was credited with 200 starts, a stretch that included 14 wins and 16 pole positions.
Once he retired from working on cars, Fox took a break before, in 1990, being hired as NASCAR’s engine inspector. He held that position until he retired from the sport at the age of 80 in 1996.