Racers Past – Robert “Red” Byron (1915 – 1960)

Although he only competed in three seasons of NASCAR Stock Car Racing, Robert “Red” Byron holds two records that will never be beaten. He was the true first NASCAR winner winning both the first ever sanctioned NASCAR race on February 15th 1948 at Daytona Beach as well as the first stock car “National Championship” title.

 

Born in Colorado Byron moved to Alabama at an early age and started racing in 1932 in unorganized and unsanctioned races at a little known track called Talladega. With the out break of WW II he joined the service and flew 57 missions as a tail gunner on b-24 bombers, he was shot down on his 58th mission (which he only flew to cover for a friend) and his left leg was shattered. The doctors were doubtful if Red would ever walk again, but he was determined to return to racing and after 27 months in various military hospitals getting he returned to the track in February 1946 with his still badly damaged leg supported in a steel stirrup that was bolted to the clutch pedal. Byron went on to win the race as well as his next event, the Daytona Beach race.

 

In 1947 he spent half a season in AAA sanctioned events before returning to Stock Cars where he won 9 of the 18 races he entered. The following year he became NASCAR’s first winner and inaugural Champion in it’s “Modified” division.

 

In 1949 he raced in NASCAR’s new “Strictly Stock” series (the precursor to the modern Nextel Cup series) and became its first champion too.

 

 Red retired from racing in the early 1950 due to declining health to run his own sports car race team. He passed away on November 11th, 1960 of a heart attack aged just 45 while acting as manager for an SCCA sports car team. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1966. In 1998 during NASCAR’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations he was named one of the Top 50 Stock Car racers.

One Response to “Racers Past – Robert “Red” Byron (1915 – 1960)”

    1. Kristin Swanson June 18th, 2007 at 5:42 pm

      Do you have any information on Red Byron’s estate or any contact information on where to get approval to use his images in a documentary video?
      Thank you in advance for any help you can give.

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