In the beginning their was one, Robert “Red” Byron. Byron won the first sanctioned race in 1948, on the sandy beach in Daytona. Byron also won the first season Championship that same year—in the NASCAR Modified Division.
The following year, he drove for Raymond Parks and won the first-ever NASCAR Strictly Stock Division (now the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) title.
Wounded in World War II, Byron drove with a special brace attached to the clutch pedal to assist his injured left leg—making his accomplishments even more impressive. That injury contributed to Byron’s relatively brief career, after which he continued to be involved in motorsports.
Before he died in 1960 at the age of 45, he was determined to make more history by developing an American sports car capable of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car event. In 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers.
In the 1992 season finale, Jeff Gordon and crew chief Ray Evernham made their NASCAR debut. Evernham guided Gordon and the No. 24 team to three championships in four seasons (1995, 1997, 1998), and a series-leading 47 wins in the 1990s. Among their triumphs were two Daytona 500s (1997, 1999) and two Brickyard 400s (1994, 1998).
Under Ray Evernham’s direction, the Rainbow Warriors revolutionized the art of the pit stop. In 2001, he became a team owner, leading the return of Dodge to NASCAR. His drivers won 13 times, including Bill Elliott’s (2015) win in the 2002 Brickyard 400.
After selling ownership of his team in 2007, Evernham worked for ESPN as a race analyst before joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2014 as a consultant for its competition department
One of the pioneers of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, few drivers can be compared to Ron Hornaday Jr. when it comes to wheeling a truck around a track. The second-generation racer from Palmdale, California, boasts a record four Truck Series championships and 51 wins. Hornaday also holds the Truck Series all-time marks for top fives (158) and top 10s (234).
In 2009, he won five straight Truck Series races, a feat matched only three other times in NASCAR national series history. Hornaday gave back to the sport by allowing young West Coast upstarts to stay at his home while pursuing their stock car racing dreams, including future NASCAR premier series champions Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick.
One of NASCAR’s original broadcasters, Ken Squier co-founded the Motor Racing Network in 1970. It was his voice that took NASCAR to a national audience, giving his view of what he famously described as “common men doing uncommon things.” He is perhaps best known for calling the 1979 Daytona 500, a milestone moment for the entire sport, as Squier’s voice on CBS welcomed millions to the first live flag-to-flag coverage of "The Great American Race"—a moniker he coined.
Squier continued to call races for CBS and TBS until 1997 then moving to the studio as host for NASCAR broadcasts until 2000. To this day he continues to enlighten NASCAR fans, mostly through special appearances. In 2012, NASCAR announced the creation of the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. He and Barney Hall were inaugural winners of the award.
Robert Yates was a rare breed to say the least, excelling in any field he chose. Two fields in particular placed him among NASCAR’s greats: engine building (his first love) and team ownership.
Yates began his career at Holman-Moody Racing in 1968, landed a job with Junior Johnson in 1971 and The rest is history. He provided the power for Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough, later leading Allison to a series championship in 1983 with DiGard Racing.
In the late 1980s, Yates launched his own team, Robert Yates Racing. Success came quickly when Davey Allison won the 1992 Daytona 500 and finished third in that season’s championship standings.
In 1996, Yates expanded to a two-car team with Dale Jarrett and Ernie Irvan and immediately won that year’s Daytona 500 with Jarrett. Jarrett also won another Daytona 500 in 2000. His lineage continues today, as his son Doug carries on the legacy as one of the top engine builders in the sport.
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