Ray Parks dies UPDATE NASCAR Hall of Fame inaugural nominee Raymond Parks passed away Sunday, June 20 at the age of 96. Parks was the last living member of the pivotal 1947 Streamline Hotel meeting in Daytona Beach, Fla., that led to the formation of NASCAR. Parks’ car, driven by Red Byron, won the sport’s first race and championship, both in 1948. A year later, he further solidified his place in history as the first championship car owner of what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Parks is honored in the following prominent exhibits in the NASCAR Hall of Fame:
A life-size statute as one of the founding fathers of NASCAR – located in Heritage Speedway
A replica of the shop Red Vogt used to prepare the immaculate machines that Parks fielded for Red Byron in the beginning years of the sport – located in Heritage Speedway. The actual car Parks owned that Byron drove to the inaugural championship in 1948 – located on Glory Road.
Statement from Winston Kelley, NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director:
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the sport’s true pioneers, Raymond Parks. His role in the birth of the sport and his contributions to the sustenance and growth of NASCAR are immeasurable. He made these contributions quietly, behind the scenes. Only a select few really know the impact Mr. Parks had on this industry. It is our privilege to acknowledge and honor his incredible legacy in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Mr. Parks over the last few years, and he epitomizes the term ‘true southern gentleman’ in every sense. He and his wife visited the NASCAR Hall of Fame prior to the grand opening in May. Among my most cherished memories is seeing Mr. Parks and Richard Petty visit the same day. At one point that afternoon, we unveiled Mr. Parks’ statue. Richard stopped his tour to walk over and watch the unveiling. That simple gesture from ‘The King’ of our sport really shows the respect that the NASCAR community has for Mr. Parks. He will be missed, but his legacy will live forever. Our sincere sympathy, thoughts and prayers go to Mrs. Parks and the family.”
Statement from Buz McKim, NASCAR Hall of Fame historian:
“Raymond Parks was a true pioneer of NASCAR. He chose to stay in the background as he supplied the sport with its first championship team. The sport owes him a huge debt of gratitude for what he brought to NASCAR. Few realize he was not only a hero of racing but also an American hero. He spent more than 100 days in a foxhole during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. It is hard to image all he witnessed in his 96 years.” 06/21/10 Raymond Parks, NASCAR’s first championship winning owner, passed away Sunday morning in his Atlanta, Ga. home. He was 96.
Parks, a true forefather of the sport, owned the championship winning car in both NASCAR’s first Modified season of 1948 and “Strictly Stock” season of 1949. Both championship-winning cars were driven by Red Byron.
Parks’ car won two of the eight races in the inaugural 1949 season of what is now known as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – at historic Martinsville Speedway and the Daytona Beach & Road Course.
Born June 5, 1914, Parks’ immense influence on the sport began well before his championship winning campaigns.
The last living member of the groundbreaking 1947 meeting to form NASCAR at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Fla., Parks helped shape the future of the sport and its eventual incorporation in 1948.
"The NASCAR Community is saddened by the passing of Raymond Parks,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. “Raymond was instrumental in the creation of NASCAR as a participant in the historic meeting at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach. He was also our first championship owner. Raymond is a giant in the history of NASCAR and will always be remembered for his dedication to NASCAR."