NASCAR Hall of Fame’s legacy – Red Byron’s Ford #22

NASCAR Hall of Fame’s legacy – Red Byron’s Ford #22

For many, the number 22 may represent a deficient number or a pentagonal number. For others, it may symbolize chaos and disorder. But for NASCAR fans, the number 22 holds importance because it was Red Byron’s number, a World War II hero, and the first champion of the NASCAR Strictly Stock Division.

Let’s take a sneak peek into the life of Red Byron, the man behind the blisteringly fast number 22 on NASCAR tracks.

Insight into Red Byron’s early life

Robert Nold Byron, commonly known as the Red Byron, was one of the best drivers in the late 1940s. He didn’t really start off as a stock car racing driver, but was a dirt track racer, racing around the Anniston and Talladega areas.

His passion for racing would come to a halt as war loomed around the corner. At the age of 26, he became an engineer on the early B-24 Liberators, American heavy bomber aircraft, in the Second World War. Byron was a mechanical genius, and he was responsible for fixing anything that went wrong on the B-24.

An unfortunate incident occurred during a mission over the Aleutian Islands where an explosion in the aircraft nearly cost Robert his leg. His left leg was severely shredded with shrapnel from the bomb explosion near the fuselage. You could say it was the destiny of a man born during the First World War.

The doctors managed to save his leg from amputation, but it never got any better than that. Byron spiraled into depression after spending 27 months in a military hospital and not fully recovering from his leg. His family suggested that he get back into racing as a way to rediscover happiness, and he did.

Rediscovering his passion for motorsports

Byron was discharged from the hospital with his left leg in a steel brace and a will to conquer the race tracks. He drove around the United States in a Ford with a hand-operated clutch that he had designed.

Byron was too fast, and in 1946, he entered a stock car race at the Seminole Speedway. His team designed a clutch pedal that could easily attach to his left leg, and to everyone’s surprise, Byron beat Roy Hall, a pioneering American stock car racing driver, and Bill France, a NASCAR promoter and racer. The Seminole Speedway victory cemented Byron’s ambition to become a legend in the stock racing car world.

Byron participated in the NASCAR Modified Series in 1948 and won the championship with a tricked-out 1939 Ford. Little did Byron know that he was about to make history a year later. In 1949, NASCAR announced the Strictly Stock Division, nowadays popularly known as the Sprint Cup Series.

Throughout his life, after the hospital discharge, Byron was constantly popping aspirin to subdue the pain, but it was the adrenaline from racing that truly pushed him forward to new heights. Byron went on to win two of the eight races, securing a score of 842.5 points and becoming the first champion of the Strictly Stock Divisions, a record that can never be broken.

After winning the Strictly Stock Division title, Byron scaled back his racing activities due to his declining health and never truly achieved anything as great as the 1949 victory. However, he remained involved in racing, secretly tinkering around in a garage to put together an American car that would be able to win the notorious 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Unfortunately, he had a heart attack at 45 in 1960 and died at a hotel in Chicago where he was supposed to speak with Anheuser-Busch about starting his own sports car team.

Red Byron’s entry into the Hall of Fame

Over his brief racing career, Byron accumulated several wins and titles to his name. However, his achievements came after his death when, in 1966, Byron was selected to the National Motorsports Hall of Fame and, in 1998, he was named one of NASCAR’s top 50 greatest drivers.

In 2018, Red Byron made it into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, and his legendary black No. 22 Ford is just inside the main entrance (located in Charlotte, North Carolina.) If you glance inside the Ford, you’ll see his left leg’s bracket bolted to the clutch.

Today, many may have forgotten Byron, but it is our responsibility to recognize the man who left racing behind to serve his country and then chose racing over pain. Byron achieved more in his brief history than any other NASCAR champion. He won the first-ever NASCAR championship, which will forever be instilled in the minds of motorsports enthusiasts around the world.

Here is the information if you want to visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum:

400 E M.L.K. Jr Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28202
P: 
704-654-4400

Admission: $25, 3-7 $12 8-12 $18
Combo packages available from $34 to $39 
Plan: 1-2hr
Open: WINTER HRS Oct 27 – Mar 31 Daily 10am – 5pm, No General Admission on Tuesdays

nascarhall.com

Image via Trent Cherry

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Article written by AMG guest contributor.

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Wood Brothers Racing Museum

Wood Brothers Racing Museum

The Wood Brothers Racing story began over 70 years ago when family patriarch Glen Wood decided to try racing. Wood Brothers Racing Museum showcases racing history.

Wood Brothers Racing holds the Guinness World Record for the longest active NASCAR racing team. They are the oldest continuously operating NASCAR Cup Series team and the team has always raced Ford products.

21 Performance Drive
Stuart, VA 24171
P:
276-694-2121
Email: info@woodbrothersracing.com

Admission: Free
Plan:
1hr
Open: Monday – Friday 9am – 12pm & 1pm – 4pm

woodbrothersracing.com

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Justice Brothers Automotive Collection

Justice Brothers Automotive Collection

Established in 1985, the Justice Private Automotive Collection features a car collection, automobilia, motorcycles, vintage gasoline pumps, a toy car collection, & a gasoline pump globe collection.

2734 E Huntington Dr
Duarte, CA 91010
P:
626-359-9174
Email: museum@justicebrothers.com

Plan: 1hr
Open: Tuesday – Friday 8 am – 5 pm

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Living Legends of Auto Racing

Living Legends of Auto Racing

Living Legends of Auto Racing has a changing selection of historic race cars on display.

The museum has a core collection of cars that are usually on display, but that collection expands out into the mall during Speed Weeks special events.

Living Legends of Auto Racing is jam-packed with archival photos, engines, helmets, and other artifacts that show what racing was like back in the early days.

2400 S Ridgewood Ave #36, 
South Daytona, FL 32119
P:
386-763-4483
Email: info@livinglegendsofautoracing.com

Cost: Free
Plan: 1hr
Open: Thursday, Friday & Sunday 10am – 3pm

livinglegendsofautoracing.com

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Legends Racing Museum

Legends Racing Museum

Legends Racing Museum will be a part of Motor City USA, a massive automotive-themed complex in North Texas. The 100,000 square-foot museum will feature important vehicles, artifacts, and memorabilia from the famous tracks, races, drivers, teams, pit crew, mechanics, and racing promotors.

The Legends Racing Museum will also feature the Readline Theater, a 300 high-backed seat, 70 ft. wide, curved screen with Dolby Surround Sound.

Motor City USA will also have hotels, restaurants, an event pavilion, go-kart racing, and more.

 

Coming Soon north of Dallas, Texas

Email: tim@themotorcityusa.com

Cost: ?
Plan: 3+hr
Open: Coming Soon

motorcitytexas.com

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The Brumos Collection

The Brumos Collection

From the main collection to interactive experiences that take you back to the early days of automotive design, racing, and the drivers themselves, the Brumos Collection is a walk-through automotive and racing lore you won’t soon forget.

The museum was designed to take guests through two unique experiences. The first section of the collection features open cockpit racers and early automotive innovations, with the oldest being an 1894 Peugeot. Besides the cars, there are engines, vintage racing equipment, and drivers’ gear.

All of the cars have a kiosk that provides the car’s history, vintage photographs, and stat sheets detailing car specifications. The second area is full of Porsche race cars from 1953-2017. The cases in this section are filled with legendary race trophies and awards throughout the years.

From the cars themselves to trophies, pictures, engines, and more, you’ll find plenty of racing memorabilia. Seeing some of the older, more historical items will take you back to the time when early records were set by drivers who were attempting feats never accomplished before and the cars themselves were running at top speeds.

You’ll also get to see memorabilia dedicated to Brumos racing, beginning with Hubert Brundage and including the multiple 24 Hours of Daytona trophies. There are also cases dedicated to legendary racers, Hurley Haywood and Peter Gregg.

If there’s one thing you to take away from your visit, it’s a newfound appreciation for the drivers, the mechanics, and the innovators who helped usher in such an exciting era in automotive racing and design.

5159 San Pablo Rd S
Jacksonville, FL 32224
P:
904-223-7489
Email: info@brumos.com

Admission:
Adults $24.99
Senior & Military $19.99
Kids $14.99
(Tickets sold Online HERE)

Plan: 1-2 hr
Open: Thursday – Saturday: 10AM – 4PM

thebrumoscollection.com

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