Former NASCAR mechanic, engine builder Ray Fox dead at 98

Daytona car owner & builder Ray Fox (L) with his new driver David Pearson, who began driving for Fox in May '61 at Charlotte and gained his first-ever Cup win.

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Former mechanic and engine builder Ray Fox, one of NASCAR’s top technicians in the 1950s and ’60s, died Sunday in Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Fla. Fox, a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, was 98.

A New England native, Fox saw his first automobile race at the 2-mile board track at Rockingham Park near Salem, N.H. Following service in the U.S. Army in World War II, Fox moved to Daytona Beach to work as an auto mechanic.

Fox built the engine in the Buick driven by Fireball Roberts, which led the 1955 Daytona Road & Beach Course wire-to-wire. Roberts, however, was disqualified after it was determined that the car’s mechanic, Red Vogt, had illegally modified the pushrods.

In 1956, Fox went to work for Carl Kiekhaefer whose Chrysler 300 cars won 22 of the season’s first 26 races. For his efforts, Fox was named mechanic of the year.

Four years later, Fox built the No. 27 Chevrolet in which NASCAR Hall of Famer Junior Johnson won the 1960 Daytona 500. Later that season, rookie of the year and NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson won three times in 1960 driving Fox-built Pontiacs.

In 1962, Fox became a car owner. He won nine times with Johnson and twice –€“ including the 1964 Southern 500 –€“ with Buck Baker.

Other drivers who competed in Fox’s cars included NASCAR Hall of Famers Cale Yarborough and Fred Lorenzen, as well as Buddy Baker and Charlie Glotzbach.

Fox retired in the early 1970s but in 1990 accepted the role of NASCAR’s engine inspector, a position he held until his second retirement at the age of 80 in 1996.

"We are saddened by the news of the passing of Ray Fox," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. "Ray was a legendary wrench man who led Junior Johnson to victory in the 1960 Daytona 500 and also called Daytona Beach home. Since his retirement, he was a frequent visitor at the track and his presence will be missed. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the Fox family."