DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Ray Fox, a premier engine builder and top mechanic in the 1950s and `60s, has died. He was 98.
Fox died Sunday at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona, where he'd been admitted with pneumonia. NASCAR and officials at Daytona International Speedway confirmed his death.
Among the drivers Fox fielded cars for were Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Buck Baker. He was credited with 14 wins as a car owner, but was the engine builder and mechanic for many major wins. Fox won the 1960 Daytona 500 with Johnson, and the Coca-Cola 600 in 1961 with Pearson.
''Ray Fox was one of the individuals who helped form the foundation of our sport, with a personality that was every bit as important as his on-track accomplishments,'' NASCAR said in a statement. ''His place in our record book is secure, but no one should ever view Ray Fox solely in terms of statistics.''
NASCAR said as a resident of Daytona Beach, Fox served as an ambassador for the series in the community.
''Several years ago, he said he could still build a competitive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series engine, if asked. If he had indeed been asked, in all likelihood, he would've delivered,'' the series said. ''Of course, Ray Fox had already delivered, with accomplishments and memories that will forever serve NASCAR well.''
Fox, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, transitioned to a car owner in 1962. He also won two races with NASCAR Hall of Famer Buck Baker, and fielded cars for NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen, Buddy Baker and Charlie Glotzbach.
Fox retired in the early 1970s but in 1990 accepted the role of NASCAR's engine inspector, a position he held until his second retirement at the age of 80 in 1996.
His grandson, Ray Fox III, is a mechanic at Roush Fenway Racing.
Daytona track president Joie Chitwood called Fox ''a legendary wrench man'' and frequent visitor to the speedway following his retirement.