Ray Fox, one of NASCAR’s premier engine builders, car owners and crew chiefs during the early years of the sport, died Sunday at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach, Florida. He was 98 years old.
Reports indicate Fox was hospitalized recently and was battling pneumonia.
Fox began his career in NASCAR as an engine builder. He built an engine for Fireball Roberts to race in 1955 on the Daytona Beach Road Course, building it in eight hours the night before the race. Roberts went on to win the event using the motor Fox built, but the car was later disqualified by NASCAR for illegal parts in the engine.
Fox later built engines for car owner Carl Kiekhaefer, who used Fox’s engines to win more than 20 races during the 1956 season. In 1960 Fox built a car for car owner John Masoni that Junior Johnson raced to victory in the Daytona 500.
In 1962 Fox began fielding his own cars in what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. A long list of legendary names drove cars for Fox, including Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen, Fireball Roberts, Buddy Baker, Buck Baker and more.
Fox ended his lengthy career in NASCAR in 1996 after working as a technical inspector for the sanctioning body since 1990.
“We are saddened by the news of the passing of Ray Fox. Ray was a legendary wrench man who led Junior Johnson to victory in the 1960 Daytona 500 and also called Daytona Beach home,” said Daytona Int’l Speedway President Joie Chitwood III. “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.”