James Harvey Hylton (born August 26, 1934) is a American stock car racing driver. Now retired, he is a two-time winner in NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup Series) competition and was a long-time competitor in the ARCA Racing Series. Hylton finished second in points in NASCAR's top series three times.
He has 2 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Although he only had two wins, he collected 140 top 5 and 301 top 10 in 601 races. Hylton was in the championship hunt several times in the 1960s and 70's, finishing second in points in 1966, 1967, and 1971.
James Hylton was born on August 26, 1934 to a Roanoke, Virginia family farm; he was one of thirteen children. Hylton's early years centered primarily around farming but he soon found himself, like many other southern teenagers, immersed in the world of stock car auto racing.
Auto racing career
Hylton's career in auto racing began in the late fifties when he began working as a mechanic for Rex White. Hylton, White and Louis Clements teamed to win 26 races and most importantly the 1960 NASCAR Grand National championship. In 1964, White scaled back his driving duties and Hylton began a tenure as crew chief for the Ned Jarrett / Bondy Long team. During the 1964 season the team won 14 races and finished second in points. In 1965, the team won 12 races and won the NASCAR Grand National championship.
On July 8, 1964, Hylton made his first Grand National start at the Old Dominion 400 at Old Dominion Speedway at Manassas, Virginia. James finished 19th and collected $100 for his efforts. Things improved dramatically in 1966, as Hylton finished second in the points chase and won the series' Rookie of the Year award. Hylton also captured his first pole at Starlite Speedway in Monroe, North Carolina. Hylton again finished second in points during the 1967 season while driving Dodges for owner Bud Hartje. Hylton was a model of consistency during this two-year period as he had 46 top five finishes in 87 races, finishing ahead of Richard Petty in the standings despite having no wins compared to Petty's 27.
Hylton won the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors in 1966, and finished second in the season points standings, 1,950 points behind David Pearson. He won only two races over his career. Although, he only won two races, he was always in the thick of the championship hunt. He finished in the Top 10 in the season points standings in ten of the twelve years between 1966 to 1977.
In the 1972 Talladega 500, Hylton won under interesting circumstances, when Goodyear supplied teams with a special tire for super speedways. However the tire shredded after a while, and because Hylton's team could not afford the new tires they ran with the old ones. Hylton and Ramo Stott, another low tier driver who also could not afford the tires, skated around the other cars, and Hylton won it by less than a second.
In 1968, James became a car owner / driver, a dual role that continues to this day. Hylton found his way to victory lane for the first time on March 1, 1970 at the Richmond 500, driving the familiar number 48 Ford. During the late sixties and early seventies, Hylton amassed an amazing consistency record that was rivaled only by those of Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.
On August 6, 1972, Hylton forever etched his name in the history books by claiming the Talladega 500. Hylton led 106 laps of the 188 lap race and won $24,865 for the day. Hylton won by one car length over ARCA legend Ramo Stott.
Hylton continued driving the full schedule until 1982, when he handed over driving duties to Canadian driver Trevor Boys. James soldiered on as an owner in NASCAR Winston Cup until 1993.
James moved to the ARCA Racing Series during the 1990s, and ran in 16 of 23 ARCA REMAX Series schedule in 2006. He finished 18th in the final points standings. Hylton's final planned race was at the inaugural race at Iowa Speedway, but has since returned, running nearly every race.
Hylton attempted to make the 2007 Daytona 500 in equipment leased from Richard Childress Racing, sponsored by GrahamFest and Retirement Living TV.  Hylton said "I am doing this for seniors to show that at 70 years old, you don't have to go hunting for an old-folks home. You can go race for a little bit."
In the final practice session for the 2007 Daytona 500 he posted the 15th fastest time of 48.532 sec./185.445 m.p.h. He was in a position to qualify for the Daytona 500 with 10 laps remaining in the qualifier when he was leading, then a caution for a wreck was called and on the restart he fell out of the draft due to a clutch problem. He did not qualify for the race. It was announced that he was going to attempt several others races in 2007, including the UAW-Ford 500, but these plans did not come to fruition.
Hylton was planning on qualifying his #48 car sponsored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans for the ARCA race at Rockingham on April 19, 2009. Hylton lost that sponsorship on April 16, 2009, due to ARCA placing a ban on the organization's logo that contains a version of the Confederate Battle Flag. Since this ban breached the contract already entered into by ARCA and the SCV, the SCV cancelled its sponsorship and participation with the race. ARCA was forced to refund the organization's fees due to the breach of contract. Hylton has since become a member of the SCV.
Hylton planned to attempt to qualify for the 2010 Daytona 500 , but no deal came to fruition. In 2011, Hylton set a record at the 2011 Royal Purple 200 in Darlington as the oldest driver in history to start a NASCAR race in the top three divisions at age 76. At the start of the 2013 season, Hylton announced that the 2013 ARCA season would be his last; in his final start in racing at Kansas Speedway in October, contributions from his fellow ARCA racing teams resulted in his being able to drive a brand-new car and engine combination, finishing 18th in his final race.
Post-retirement team ownership
Hylton stated that his plans following his retirement included continued participation in the ARCA Racing Series as a team owner, planning to hire a younger driver to run the No. 48.
- Skretta, James (October 4, 2013). "Last drive: James Hylton, 79, races for final time". USA Today. McLean, VA. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
- Caraviello, David (January 20, 2014). "TOP 10 ROOKIE CAMPAIGNS AT NASCAR'S HIGHEST LEVEL". NASCAR. Retrieved 2014-01-20.
- Associated Press (2013-07-14). "Morgan Shepherd oldest to start race". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-07-14.
- "Hylton Gets Special Car For Final Start". The Chattanoogan. Chattanooga, TN. September 25, 2013. Retrieved 2013-10-05.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to James Hylton.|
- Official website
- James Hylton driver statistics at Racing Reference
- James Hylton on Decades of Racing