Jun 15, 2014, 7:16 PM EDT
Former engine builder and car owner Ray Fox, who helped several of the sport’s legendary drivers win some of its most important races, has passed away at the age of 98 according to a report from the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
The N-J’s Godwin Kelly relays word from a family spokesperson that Fox had been hospitalized a few days ago and that he’d been suffering from pneumonia. Two of his daughters were at his side when he died.
Fox was a key figure in stock car racing during the 1950s and 1960s. He built the winning engine for Fireball Roberts in the 1955 Daytona Road & Beach Course race.
However, Roberts was disqualified after the sanctioning body determined that the pushrods had been illegally modified by the car’s mechanic.
Nonetheless, Fox was brought on to work for Carl Kiekhaefer the following year. With Fox’s help, Kiekhaefer’s cars dusted the competition to the tune of 22 wins in 26 races and Fox himself earned the Chief Mechanic of the Year award.
A few years later, Junior Johnson took a Fox-built car to the win in the 1960 Daytona 500. Future NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson also won three races that year in a Fox-built car and captured Rookie of the Year honors.
Two years later, Fox tried his hand at team ownership and had a good amount of success. He won 14 races, with Johnson chipping in nine of them and Buck Baker earning two, including the 1964 Southern 500 at Darlington.
Other drivers that suited up for Fox included Cale Yarborough, Fred Lorenzen, and Buddy Baker.
Fox retired from the sport in the early 1970s, but in 1990, he came back to help NASCAR on its technical side as an engine inspector. He stayed in that role until 1996, when he retired again.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Fox’s family and friends at this time.