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Raymond Lee Fox, Sr.

Raymond Lee Fox, Sr.  made many significant contributions to auto racing during his career, and what a career it was. Fox was a major player, not for just a few years, but for an entire generation.  From then on, he earned a reputation as a master builder of both cars and engines, an outstanding crew chief and someone willing to give a young driver a chance.  

Born in Pelham, New Hampshire, but Fox left the cold New England Mass. winters in early 1946 and took a job with various automotive shops including Studebaker, before going with Robert fish of Fish Carburetor in Daytona. After driving Modifieds in Florida and South Georgia for five years against such notables as Glenn "Fireball" Roberts and Marshall Teague, Ray discovered his true talent � building cars and fast engines. He built and raced with Fireball Roberts and Larry Flynn of Holly Hill in winning Modifieds, most notably the Fish Carburetor 'M' cars.

Just one of the amazing Fox stories was about the '55 Daytona Beach race. The night before, Ray built an engine for Fireball's 1955 M-1 Buick Century owned by John Fish.  "I started at 8:00 p.m. and finished at 4:00 a.m., " recalls Ray. Roberts started fourth and led every lap of the 160-mile event. He cruised under the checkered flag one minute and 14 seconds ahead of Tim Flock, the only other driver on the lead lap.
NASCAR disqualified the car 24 hours after the race because the push rods had been shortened 30/100ths of an inch. Flock, who had been disqualified the year before under the same rule, won the race by default. Neither Fireball Roberts nor Ray Fox ever forgot the crushing loss. To this day, it is the last race to be taken away from the winner. All others haves fines and points loss now.

In 1956 Carl Kiekhaefer hired Ray and Herb Thomas. "He hired us because we were the only ones who could outrun his cars," remembers Ray. With Ray's mechanical expertise and the driving skills of Buck Baker, Herb Thomas, Tim Flock, and Speedy Thompson, Kiekhaefer's cars won 22 of the first 26 races, and Ray was named Mechanic of the Year. Ray opened his own engine shop the following year.

In 1960 John Masoni asked Ray to build a car for the Daytona 500. In another last-minute effort, he built the car in seven days and put Junior Johnson behind the wheel. "We had a smaller engine than the Pontiacs, but as the race went on we just kept getting better and better. That car really drafted well, and Junior did a great job. It really amazed us," says Ray. David Pearson won three races in his rookie year in a Ray Fox Pontiac.

Junior Johnson, Marvin Panch, and Jim Paschal drove for Ray in 1961, but when the Charlotte World 600 rolled around he was without a driver. Bud Moore and Joe Littlejohn recommended a young driver from Spartanburg � David Pearson. David started third, but took the lead in the first lap, led most of the day, and won the race. Ray and David went on to win the Firecracker 250 at Daytona and the Dixie 400 at Atlanta � the first grand slam before there was a grand slam.

Ray became a car owner in 1962, and over the next eight seasons his cars won 18 poles and 14 races in 172 starts. It is said that in 1963 alone Ford Motor Company spent over 1 million dollars trying to catch Ray's No. 3 white Chevy. Over the next few years Buck Baker, Buddy Baker, Earl Balmer, Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, Marvin Panch, Fireball Roberts and LeeRoy Yarbrough drove Ray's cars.

In 1965 LeeRoy drove Ray's Dodge Coronet to a new world speed record for closed courses. The Coronet was powered by a 426-cubic-inch Hemi-Charger engine with four-port Hilborne fuel injection and a 617 GMC blower. Before the test run the crew gave LeeRoy a bathtub stopper in case the car was too fast. LeeRoy put the stopper on his key chain, but forgot to use it when he ran the second lap at a record-breaking 181.818 mph. He was gaining speed for the third lap when NASCAR officials saw smoke and gave him the black flag. The crew later found a quarter-inch machine bolt in the right front tire.

In the late 1960's, Fox acquired Holman-Moody's old Airport shop in Charlotte and moved his family to North Carolina for a while.

Ray retired in 1972 and founded a racing dynasty when he turned the business over to his son, Raymond Lee Fox, Jr. His grandson, Raymond Lee Fox III, is a member of the Robert Yates team.

NASCAR asked Ray to return a few years later, and the man who once built fast engines began inspecting engines. He retired again in 1996 and now devotes his time and talent to serving as president of The Living Legends.

Ray is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, the Western Auto Mechanics Hall of Fame, the Oceanside Rotary Hall of Fame, and the Jacksonville (Fla) Raceway hall of Fame, and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2003. He lives in Daytona and is President of the Living Legends of Auto Racing (see picture below).



Legends Above: Marvin Panch, Ray Fox, 'Mad' Marion MacDonald, TBA


Living Legends of Auto Racing, Daytona Beach

Ray Fox, President

Board of Directors

Of note: Nascar legendary scorer Joe Epton, lower right

 

 

Below: Fox, Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker


Grand National / Winston Cup Owner Statistics
Year Driver Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1962 Darel Dieringer 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 5,000 33 1.0 22.0
1962 Junior Johnson 6 1 2 2 1 1347 648 34,841 20 3.7 15.7
1962 David Pearson 7 0 0 5 0 1284 278 19,031 10 6.1 12.3
1963 Buck Baker 1 0 0 0 0 67 0 18,616 11 10.0 27.0
1963 Junior Johnson 32 7 12 13 9 5526 2396 67,351 12 3.7 14.7
1963 Jim Paschal 2 0 0 0 0 231 8 20,979 19 7.5 22.5
1963 G.C. Spencer 5 0 1 2 0 604 21 13,514 18 10.8 14.2
1964 Buck Baker 22 2 11 13 0 4940 138 43,781 9 8.1 9.9
1964 Buddy Baker 2 0 0 0 0 10 0 8,460 31 20.5 20.5
1964 Junior Johnson 11 1 5 7 0 2284 16 26,974 14 6.1 9.2
1964 Bobby Schuyler 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 100   22.0 19.0
1964 LeeRoy Yarbrough 11 0 3 4 0 2175 8 16,629 15 12.6 13.4
1965 Bunkie Blackburn 2 0 0 0 0 129 0 1,130 70 12.5 32.0
1965 LeeRoy Yarbrough 6 0 1 1 0 860 42 5,905 37 25.3 21.0
1966 Buddy Baker 6 0 1 2 0 1155 106 21,335 22 6.7 20.7
1966 Earl Balmer 2 1 1 1 0 61 1 7,935 36 5.0 21.0
1966 Bunkie Blackburn 1 0 1 1 0 283 0 2,225 57 9.0 4.0
1967 Buddy Baker 11 1 4 5 0 2403 480 46,949 15 5.7 15.4
1967 Innes Ireland 2 0 0 1 0 165 0 1,265   15.5 18.5
1968 Buddy Baker 37 1 16 18 4 7890 564 56,023 13 6.4 14.4
1969 Buddy Baker 6 0 2 2 1 911 191 63,525 22 9.2 23.2
1969 Neil Castles 2 0 0 0 0 255 0 54,367 4 11.5 28.5
1969 Charlie Glotzbach 1 0 0 0 0 46 4 37,515 37 5.0 32.0
1969 Paul Goldsmith 1 0 0 0 0 40 0 22,850 40 4.0 37.0
1969 Don Tarr 6 0 0 3 0 1160 6 13,950 41 16.0 16.0
1969 Jim Vandiver 2 0 1 1 0 252 102 13,225 96 6.5 22.5
1970 Fred Lorenzen 4 0 1 1 1 656 3 9,295 54 9.5 26.5
1970 Jim Vandiver 3 0 0 1 0 324 0 16,080 45 12.7 22.7
1971 Cale Yarborough 3 0 0 1 0 355 13 2,790   12.0 23.0
1972 Cale Yarborough 1 0 0 1 0 188 0 4,660 51 16.0 6.0
1974 Wally Dallenbach 1 0 0 0 0 125 0 1,395   20.0 29.0
12 years 198 14 62 85 16 35732 5025 657,695   8.2 15.8
 

More Ray Fox Related Stories
Legendary builder Ray Fox, with the help of fellow Daytona Beach, Fla., stock car innovator Smokey Yunick, debuted Chevrolet's "mystery engine," a 427-cubic inch engine that would replace the 409-cubic inch engine previously used and often called a "boat anchor" because of its weight.

The new powerplant had other manufacturers worried, and for good reason. Junior Johnson, driving Fox's 1963 Chevrolet, became a common fixture on the front row most race weekends.

But as is often been the case when durability is sacrificed for speed, there came more problems. In most cases the car would finish in the top five or break while trying.

In 1961, Pearson entered 19 of the season�s 52 events driving his #67 Chevrolet, Tony Lavati�s #66 Pontiac, and John Masoni�s #3 Pontiac. Behind the wheel of Masoni�s Pontiac, Pearson won the World 600 at Charlotte, the Firecracker 250 at Daytona, and the Dixie 400 at Atlanta. Pearson qualified on the pole in the #3 Pontiac for the National 400 at Charlotte, but finished 21st after having a fuel pump failure.

In 1962, Pearson competed in 12 events, driving Ray Fox�s #3 and #39 Pontiacs

MASTER DRAFTER
I
n 1959, nobody had heard of drafting. Johnson said he discovered it totally by accident in 1960. Johnson and crew chief Ray Fox were about 22 mph slower than the top cars in the field. They kept trying to find more speed but were failing.

While out on the track testing adjustments, a faster car passed Johnson. As it happened, Johnson ducked in behind the faster car's bumper. He soon realized he was able to keep up with the faster car, lap after lap.

''I figured out drafting dragged me along,'' Johnson said.

He went back to the garage. Fox thought he had found the extra horsepower. Johnson didn't tell him of his slipstream discovery, in which he only needed to run about two-thirds throttle when he was drafting. It saved gas mileage and wear on a motor that really wasn't supposed to last 500 miles.

''When the race started, I started thumbing rides all day long,'' Johnson said.

``When the race was over with, I happened to be in right place to win it.''

More on the story . . . .
As the start of the 1960 season neared, Junior Johnson had no ride. Then came a call from Ray Fox, a highly respected car builder/engineer/crew chief based in Daytona Beach, Fla. He had a Chevy with sponsorship from John Masoni through the Daytona Beach Kennel Club, the greyhound racing track he owned near the first turn of the sprawling speedway. Fox needed a driver. Was Junior interested? "I liked Ray, so I told him I'd come down and see what we could do," says Junior. "It appeared that Pontiac had the best race car, and several good drivers were in 'em, including Fireball (Roberts) and Paul Goldsmith. I knew it was going to be a challenge."

As he expected, the Pontiacs were up to 30 mph faster than Junior in practice. And they stayed faster in time trials ... Junior hinted for Fox to get another driver. However, Fox demurred, vowing to improve his car's speed. After a series of adjustments, Junior decided to try and run along with a top Pontiac in practice. "Cotton Owens came by and I got behind him. Right on his rear bumper. And I stayed right there! We came back to the garage and Cotton walked over to me. 'Boy, you've sure got that thing to running,' Cotton said. What he didn't know was that I had discovered the aerodynamic draft at Daytona." ... "Once the race started, I got to the Pontiacs ahead of me as fast as I could," continued Junior. "From then on I did everything the Pontiac drivers did. If they pitted, I pitted." ... Various problems began taking a toll on the Pontiacs ... Only the Pontiac of Bobby Johns remained competitive, and Junior had track position on him. However, the lapped Pontiac of Jack Smith gave Johns a tow and he passed Junior for the lead on the 170th lap of the race's 200. "Then, coming off the second turn with 10 laps to go ... the back glass popped out of Bobby's car and flew into the air. I think our speed and the traffic circumstances combined to create a vacuum that sucked that back glass right out." ... Junior swept to the checkered flag 23 seconds ahead of Johns, who recovered to finish as the runner-up. The immensely popular victory was the biggest of Junior's great 50 win career.

THE Record

February 26, 1965, Leroy Yarbrough teamed up with Dodge and legendary engine builder and car owner Ray Fox to set a new record at Daytona International Speedway. Driving a No. 3 Dodge Coronet with a supercharged and fuel-injected 426-cubic-inch Hemi engine, Yarbrough circled the fabled track at 181.818 mph. The pole winner for the Daytona 500 two weeks earlier had lapped the track 10 miles an hour slower at 171.151 mph.

Fox says Yarbrough could have set a faster time but track officials black-flagged him when they thought he blew the engine. Yarbrough shut it off between the third and fourth turn and coasted through the timing lights when he said the record. What the officials actually saw, says Fox, was tire smoke.


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