CONCORD, N.C. – National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Hall of Fame member Ray Fox Sr., a renowned engine builder, crew chief, team owner and NASCAR official, is the 2023 recipient of the prestigious Wood Brothers Award of Excellence.
Members of the beloved Wood family determined the award recipient. It was presented Sunday during the NMPA’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies at the Great Wolf Lodge.
The Wood Brothers Award of Excellence honors crew members, crew chiefs, engine builders and race engineers that offer outstanding contributions to NASCAR through on-track success. Previous recipients are eight-time NASCAR Cup championship crew chief Dale Inman, NASCAR innovator Leonard Wood, NASCAR championship crew chief Harry Hyde, who engineered several land speed records as well as Hendrick Motorsports’ first victory, and NASCAR engine builder and crew chief Waddell Wilson, who was the winning crew chief for three Daytona 500s in the 1980s.
Following Fox’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II, the New Hampshire native moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., where he soon became known for building powerful engines and winning race cars. Carl Kiekhaefer, NASCAR’s first multi-car team owner, recognized Fox’s talent in stock car racing’s formative years and hired him. In 1956, Fox was named NASCAR Mechanic of the Year. That year, the Chrysler 300 cars he built for Kiekhaefer won 22 of the season’s first 26 races in the 56-race season.
In addition to Fox’s success with Kiekhaefer, his list of engine-building accolades includes winning the 1960 Daytona 500 with driver Junior Johnson and David Pearson’s first career NASCAR Cup victory in the 1961 World 600.
Fox became a car owner in 1962, winning 14 races with various drivers that included NASCAR Hall of Fame members Johnson, Buck and Buddy Baker. Buck Baker’s 1964 Southern 500 victory came in a car owned by Fox. He also was Buddy Baker’s car owner and crew chief when Baker secured his first career NASCAR Cup victory in the 1967 National 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Other drivers who competed in Fox’s cars were Herb Thomas, Charlie Glotzbach and NASCAR Hall of Fame members Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen and Tim Flock.
Fox retired from competition in the early 1970s. In 1990, he returned to the garage as NASCAR’s engine inspector and remained in that position until 1996 when he retired at age 80. He then became involved in the Living Legends of Auto Racing, serving as the Daytona Beach organization’s president for two years.
Fox was 98 years old when he died of pneumonia in 2014.
Fox’s son, Ray Jr., was a long-time Robert Yates Racing employee. His grandson Ray Fox III is the car chief for Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney.