| Born: March 12,1915|
| Died: November 11,1960|
Chicago, Illinois (aged 45)
|Best Pts Finish||1st (1949)|
|Last Race:||1951 Southern 500|
|Awards:|| 1949 Strictly Stock Champion|
member of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers
(Inducted in 1998)
Robert "Red" Byron (March 12, 1915 - November 11, 1960) was a NASCAR driver who was successful 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 champion in 1949.
A native of Anniston, Alabama, 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 Air Force as a flight engineer during World War II. Byron's B-24 was shot 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.
When he returned from the war, Byron, limp and all, returned to racing, and was still successful. In 1948, Byron became a part of the newly formed NASCAR Modified Series. Driving for Raymond Parks, he won the first NASCAR-sanctioned race ever, held on February 15 1948 at the Daytona Beach Road Course. This was one of eleven victories for Byron that season.
In 1949, Byron began racing in NASCAR's newly formed Strictly Stock series, which became the Grand National series, Winston Cup Series, Nextel and Sprint Cup Series, and the modern-day Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. With Parks in tow, Red was equally successful in the inaugural 8-race season. Just as he had done in 1948, he won at Daytona Beach, and also won at a dirt track in Martinsville. Byron, as he done the 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 Edit
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 Bryon enjoyed sports cars. When he died of a heart attack in a Chicago hotel room on November 11, 1960, at the age of 45, he was managing a team in the Sports Car Club of America competition.
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.
|NASCAR "Strictly Stock" Champion|