|Robert "Red" Byron|
March 12, 1915|
Anniston, Alabama, United States
|Died||November 11, 1960(aged 45)|
|Cause of death||heart attack|
1949 Strictly Stock Champion (NASCAR's first official season)
|Awards||NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers (1998)|
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career|
|15 race(s) run over 3 year(s)|
|First race||1949 Race No. 1 (Charlotte)|
|Last race||1951 Southern 500 (Darlington)|
|First win||1949 (Daytona Beach)|
|Last win||1949 (Martinsville)|
|Statistics current as of February 22, 2013.|
Robert "Red" Byron (March 12, 1915 – November 11, 1960) was an American stock car racing driver, who was successful in NASCAR competition in the sanctioning body's first years. He was NASCAR's first Modified champion (and its first champion in any division) in 1948 and its first Strictly Stock (predecessor to Sprint Cup) champion in 1949. Along with Bob Flock, he is considered one of the best drivers of the era. He won the first NASCAR race at Daytona and won the inaugural NASCAR Strictly Stock (now Sprint Cup Series) championship.
Born in Colorado he moved to Anniston, Alabama at an early age, Byron began racing in 1932 and was successful racing in Talladega by the start of the 1940s. His racing career was interrupted when he served in the United States Army Air Forces as a flight engineer during World War II. Byron's B-24 was shot at (not down) during the war and he suffered a serious injury to his left leg. It took nearly two years for doctors to rebuild his leg but he managed to make a good recovery, although he was left with a limp.
Before WWII, Byron raced in the AAA Indy series, mainly in Sprint Cars and Midgets. He achieved his first Stock Car victory in July, 1941, while on a two day liberty from training with the USAAF, and with the war intervening, did not return to racing for five years.
When he returned from the war, Byron, limp and all, returned to racing, and with the help of race engineer Red Vogt was still successful. He won his first race following the war at Seminole Speedway, near Orlando, in 1946, beating Roy Hall and Bill France. In 1948, Byron became a part of the newly formed NASCAR Modified Series racing with Raymond Parks' team. In 1949, Byron began racing in NASCAR's newly formed Strictly Stock series, which became the Grand National series, Winston Cup, and the modern-day Sprint Cup series. With Parks in tow, Red was equally successful in the inaugural 8-race season. Just as in 1948, he won at Daytona Beach, and also won at a dirt track in Martinsville. Byron, as with his previous year in a modified, ended the year as the series' first champion.
Byron raced sparingly after his two championships. He owned a sports car racing team for much of the 1950s.
Life after driving
Declining health forced him to hang up his goggles in 1951, but he remained active in racing. He worked with Briggs Cunningham, who was trying to develop an American sports car that could win Grand Prix races, then become manager of a Corvette team with the same goal. Neither project succeeded, but Byron enjoyed sports cars.
Motorsports career results
(key) (Bold - Pole position awarded by time. Italics - Pole position earned by points standings. * – Most laps led.)
NASCAR Strictly Stock/Grand National Series
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position)
|NASCAR Grand National results|
|1949||Raymond Parks||22||Parks Novelty||Oldsmobile||CHA
|1950||Raymond Parks||22||Parks Novelty||Oldsmobile||DAB
|1951||Wally Marks||1||Wally Marks||Oldsmobile||DAB
|B.J. Dantone||22||Dantone Racing Stable||Ford||CLS
Despite his brief career, he was selected to the National Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1966. In 1998, as part of NASCAR's 50th Anniversary celebration, he was selected as one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers. He is announced as a 2008 inductee in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
- Jim Francis (15 January 2008). The History of NASCAR. Crabtree Publishing Company. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-7787-3186-3. Retrieved 5 January 2013.
|NASCAR Modified Division Champion
|NASCAR Strictly Stock Series Champion