Looking back at the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee's career MORE: NASCAR Hall of Fame profile of Rex White " NASCAR Hall of Fame by class (Note: This release is part of a series in advance of the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Jan. 30, broadcast live at 8 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network, Motor Racing Network Radio and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. Bill Elliott, Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott, Joe Weatherly and Rex White are the five 2015 inductees.) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.– Over the years, NASCAR premier series champions have come in all shapes and sizes – tall, short, muscular and lean. The single constant? It’s impossible to judge a book by its cover. Based upon first impressions, Rex White – at 5 feet 4 inches, weighing just 135 pounds and with his right leg withered by childhood polio – might have seemed the unlikeliest championship contender of all. White , however, was tough as nails fearing neither competitor nor track conditions. He won the 1960 premier series title and posted 28 victories over five seasons, finishing among the top five in nearly half of his 233 starts. "He looked more like a jockey than a race car driver," fellow competitor Buddy Baker told the Gaston Gazette, "but he lived large once they started the race. On short tracks, he was very aggressive. He didn't mind going in the turn with (NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time premier series champion) Lee Petty and saying, 'I'm inside and if you come down we’re not going to agree on stuff.' "He raced hard." NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison, the 1983 premier series champion, said, "I admired Rex as a race driver because he was a little guy. I started out small. Seeing him winning encouraged me to chase my dream." What might have been a handicap to many only served as motivation to White , born Aug. 17, 1929 in Taylorsville, N.C. "Most of the lessons I have learned (from childhood illness) have stayed with me all my life," said White in his autobiography "Gold Thunder," written with Dr. Anne B. Jones. "The biggest one was how to conquer fear." White learned to drive at age six, driving a neighbor's truck in surrounding fields. Two years later he was working on his family's Ford Model T. “I was unaware the car on which I labored represented hope to people around me (and) frustration to those trying to stop illegal moonshine," said White . "I saw automobiles as transportation, not the symbol of an upcoming billion-dollar sport." White dropped out of school, moving to the Washington D.C., area where he found employment as a cook and, after marriage, a service station job. A poster advertising stock car races took White to Lanham (Maryland) Speedway where he caught on as an unpaid crew member for 1952 NASCAR Modified champion Frankie Schneider. A year later, White returned to the track with a 1937 Ford purchased for $600 lettered "X." He won his heat race, the semi-main and the feature. "I'd never won a trophy at anything," said White . White made his premier series debut in 1956 on Daytona's beach/road course. In 1958, he teamed with crew chief Louis Clements in an "off the books" program by GM's Chevrolet Division. They won twice in 1958 and five times the following year. The 1959 season also saw the debut of White's iconic No. 4 gold and white Chevrolet. The 1960 season was the first in which White ran a full schedule, going to the post only after he and Clement built a car for a competitor, the sale of which netted $2,000 for their own Chevrolet. White won six times finishing 35 of 40 races among the top 10. White's ninth-place finish at Birmingham, Alabama on Aug. 3 was his worst performance in the year's final 15 races. The championship was a runaway, White beating NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty by nearly 4,000 points. "The thing about Rex is he thinks," said Clements in a 1960 interview with Sports Illustrated. "When he's out on the track, he's planning and figuring out which cars he has to race to stay ahead." Car owner and engine builder Smokey Yunick, quoted in the same article, said, " Rex is not a cautious driver but he know when to use caution." White didn't disagree. "I couldn't run quite as fast as some of those other guys," he said. "So long as I was smart and kept running; if any of those other guys had trouble, I had a chance." White nearly defended his title in 1961 winning seven times but finished second to NASCAR Hall of Famer Ned Jarrett. He added two more top-10 championship finishes before retiring at the conclusion of the 1964 season. Between 1959 and the 1963 seasons, White won more races than any other driver. He won 36 premier series poles – at least one in eight consecutive seasons – and finished second in NASCAR's Short Track late model championship in 1959. In retirement, White has owned an automobile dealership and for 25 years a trucking company, both in the Atlanta area where at age 85 he continues to reside. Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998, White holds membership in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.
Oldest living premier series champion gives his thoughts on induction, Abreu Rex White , still keeping busy at age 85, reigns supreme as NASCAR's oldest living champion. He might also rank as its shortest. But White , who stands just a few inches above five feet, never saw his height as any sort of disadvantage, even in the rough-and-tumble days of stock-car racing's infancy. "I really wasn't built or the size for fighting, so I kind of avoided any physical contact with any drivers," White said. "In the race car, though, I was probably about the same height as all of them." White's stature will take another step up come Friday night, when he'll be enshrined as part of the sixth class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He'll be inducted with three drivers he competed against -- Fred Lorenzen, Wendell Scott and Joe Weatherly -- and latter-day star Bill Elliott. It's an honor that left the 1960 champion of NASCAR's premier series at a loss for words. "It's just unbelievable because I didn't really think I was going in that early," White said of his emotions upon hearing the news. "Just unbelievable -- I don't even know the correct word to use for it, but I was really flabbergasted." White won 28 races in NASCAR's top division, all but two of which came in a four-year heyday from 1959-62. He never regarded his diminutive size as a hurdle, a point that was underscored just last weekend with a modern-day corollary. A popular victory by Rico Abreu, who stands 4-foot-4, in the Chili Bowl Nationals sprint car showcase has opened the doors for a driving opportunity in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. White said if Abreu's talent speaks for itself, all other factors should remain equal. "If they build the race cars and get him adjusted and sitting in there where he can operate everything," White said, "I would say he's just as capable of winning races as any other driver." White's ascension to the top of the NASCAR ladder came during a time when the sport was expanding its reach, growing beyond the dirt bullrings and entering a major speedway boom. Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway opened in the year White was crowned, and Daytona International Speedway 's 2.5-mile high banks debuted for business the previous year. Though he could see the sport transforming, White said he couldn't have envisioned what NASCAR would look like in 2015. "No earthly idea that it was going to grow to where it is today and be as popular as it is, and draw the money and pay the purses that they're paying," said White , who picked up a $13,000 check for winning the 1960 title. "I'm not even sure that Bill France had enough foresight to see that. I don't know. He may have, but I sure didn't." If White happens to cross paths with current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick during the Hall of Fame ceremonies, a link between the two will come full circle. White -- who drove a "Gold Thunder" car noted for its pristine gold and white paint scheme -- was the last champion to carry the No. 4 before Harvick accomplished the feat last season. White , like Harvick, was particularly loyal to driving for Chevrolet. The story goes, White needed to change his number from No. 44 once he stopped driving Chevrolet factory cars. Noting that Billy Myers -- an early star driver from Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina -- was a hero of his, it made White's choice all the easier. "Naturally, I grabbed it," White said. "It was a great number. Still is today." Though White hung up his helmet after a part-time schedule in 1964 and retired from his job at a car dealership in 2003, he said he's yet to slow down. His active schedule has picked up recently with appearances and interviews ahead of his Hall of Fame induction. Come Friday night in Charlotte, his stature as one of the sport's all-time greats will be secured, complete with a personalized blue blazer and the presentation of his NASCAR Hall of Fame ring. White says he's looking forward to the festivities, even if there might be the potential for stage fright. "Probably as ready as I'll ever be," White joked. "I'm sure there's something that I'll screw up on, so anyway, I'm going to do the best I can. It's a great honor, and it's a pleasure to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame."
Rex White talks with Bob Dillner about what it means to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Rex White acknowledges the team effort that helped earn him a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Rex White reflects on his career and winning a NASCAR championship.
Reigning Sprint Cup champ to help determine seventh class of enshrinees
Elliott leads 114 laps, couldn't hold off Buescher on old tires RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings NEWTON, Iowa — Chris Buescher and all but one driver battling at the front of the pack yearned for one last caution. The lone exception? Chase Elliott , who, fully fueled, had powered to a commanding lead and near-certain win in Sunday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series 3M 250 at Iowa Speedway . Two laps remained. Elliott’s trip to Victory Lane loomed. Then, it happened. Jamie Dick , running mid-pack, hit the wall and spun, drawing a caution flag. Buescher — his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford packed with fuel and four fresh tires — smiled, charging hard and low on the restart to cap a temper-tinged and thrill-filled race with a green- white -checkered triumph at the 7/8-mile short track. “When that happened, I knew we had an awesome shot at it,” said Buescher, who raced to the series standings lead by eight points over Ty Dillon , who finished 14th. Buescher had on-track help — namely from Roush Fenway teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr ., who provided a strong nudge as the race went green. Maybe more than a nudge. “(He) gave us a heck of a shot on the restart,” said Buescher, who relegated Elliott to second while notching his first win of the season and Roush Fenway’s fifth in 11 XFINITY Series races at Iowa. “It was a hard hit. That was almost a crash. It was exactly what we needed to get going and get to the inside and be able to pull this win off.” Elliott took the runner-up finish in stride. He led 114 laps. His car ran fast all day long. The late-race pit strategy — partly because of minor right-side damage, he pitted on lap 177 while other leaders stayed out — nearly paid off. “That’s racing some days,” said Elliott, who -- like Buescher -- enjoys a series-leading five top-five finishes this season. “You make a decision — and I think it was a good one. We had some right-side damage and it was good to come in and make sure that was OK rather than to face the opposite of that, cutting down a tire and have a day like we did in Talladega. So I think it was the right move.” Erik Jones climbed from 35th to take third. Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney completed the top five. Jones started near the rear of the field because Drew Herring qualified the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota on the pole while Jones remained in Charlotte. By the Lap 60 competition caution, Jones had raced into the top 10, but couldn’t find enough speed in the ensuing laps to advance past third. “We worked ourselves into a good position,” Jones said. “A long day coming from the back.” Buescher — who raced outside the top 10 in both XFINITY Series Iowa races last season — merely needed to come from the second row. He’d reluctantly accepted the waning laps would mostly entail driving in “points mode,” as Dillon had pitted late after running in the top eight most of the day. “I hate points racing,” Buescher said. “I despise it. When that caution came out — watched it happen right in front of me — it was like, ‘All right, this is it. This is what we need. We need to come in and get some tires and get back rolling here.’” That he did, right to the top, for now, at least. “This is big,” Buescher said. Black Flag: The race was marred by a temper-stoked wreck. Brennan Poole — who felt rival J.J. Yeley had struck him intentionally early in the race — spun Yeley out on lap 153. Yeley’s car sustained damage, but he was unharmed. Poole drew the black flag and told the Motorsports Racing Network, “it happens.” Yeley said the early-race encounter was unintentional and described his mood as “very furious.” “Hopefully NASCAR gets ahold of him before I do,” Yeley added. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Inductee for 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame class
No. 4 SHR driver to wheel throwback Budweiser scheme at Darlington
JGR driver discusses how baby's name was picked, if he would let Brexton race RELATED: Kyle, Samantha Busch welcome baby boy " Keselowski, Paige White have baby girl CONCORD, N.C. -- The sight of Kyle Busch riding a neon green motorized cooler into the media center on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway had some folks chuckling, but the new dad smiled as he made a sharp left turn and quickly ascended onto the front stage. The scene had "cool dad" written all over it, but Busch was perched on top of the plastic vehicle in order to rest his legs as he continues his comeback from injuries sustained in the NASCAR XFINITY Series season opener at Daytona. Busch returned to action last week in the Sprint All-Star Race, finishing sixth. Then, he and wife Samantha welcomed son Brexton Locke into the world on Monday. To say the least, it has been quite a busy week for the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and now he is prepping for Sunday's ultimate endurance race, the Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). Despite his claims of some lost sleep, Busch was alert and more than happy to discuss the birth of his son. On what has changed since Monday, Kyle said: "It's way different than what it was before he was born. Obviously, Samantha was taking care of him. She had him in her so just taking care of him that way and carrying him around (laughter). "I didn't have to worry about anything. I didn't have to feed him, I didn't have to change him or nothing like that, but it's a whole different world now that he's here with having to take care of him so we both have to spread our time. Obviously, when his favorite thing to do is make stinky diapers, then you've certainly got your work cut out for you." On his wife Samantha, Kyle said: "It was emotional and physically taxing on me, I couldn't imagine what Samantha was going through. Obviously, I was there and trying to help her and coach her and be with her the entire time and she did phenomenal. ... She's a champ. Samantha is my champion. No matter how well or successful I ever am in my career, she's got the championship trophy on her mantle." On how he and Samantha picked the name: "Samantha and I, we were back-and-forth a lot on names. We kind of tried to figure out whether we wanted to keep the initials K.B. or not, and we decided not to. I kind of liked her maiden name (Samantha Sarcinella), the S.S., so we decided we'd go with the B.B. So then we just started looking up some B names and put the pieces together and kind of made it up. It's pretty cool that we both agreed on it." On whether he wants his son to follow in his footsteps: "Whether he follows in my footsteps or not that's totally up to him. Brexton one day will be his own person and his own individual. If he wants to be a golfer, by golly we'll help him be a golfer. If he wants to be a racecar driver like his daddy, more power to him. We'll give him the best stuff we possibly can. He'll only make it here if he wins races, that's my stipulation. He won't make it here if he ain't any good. I'll quit spending money on him long before that. Toyota might not, but I will (laughs)." MORE: If Busch and Keselowski exchanged texts about fatherhood ... On whether he'd allow his son to go to the prom with Brad Keselowski 's daughter, also born this week: "(Brad and I) obviously don't have a relationship and may or may not ever, but that's to be seen down the road. We live two completely different lives right now -- and you know -- we'll take care of our son the best we can and put him in the best situations we can. But if for some reason, he feels like he needs to chase down Brad's daughter, then have at it, bud (laughter)." And shortly after that zinger, Busch rode his motorized cooler out the back door and off to the garage. SHOP: 'Rowdy Returns' shirts and more Kyle Busch gear FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule