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NASCAR’s Oldest Living Champion Just Hated Losing


It’s a winnable debate that Rex White is NASCAR’s second-most underappreciated Cup Series champion, trailing only 1950 champion the late Bill Rexford.

But be warned. A closer look at White’s racing career reveals a highly successful and fiercely competitive driver who doesn’t fit into any “superstar” category except one: he hated losing more than almost anything in life.

2015 nascar hall of fame induction ceremony
Rex White is a member of the 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class.

Lance KingGetty Images

White, at 91, is NASCAR’s oldest living champion, having lapped Richard Petty by seven years. Born in the hardscrabble year of 1929, he still lives on the same plot of rural land where he was reared in Taylorsville, North Carolina. (Not in the same structure, but in a home built atop his birthplace; he and former NASCAR star Harry Gant are neighbors). He was in his early 20s, living near Washington, D.C. and working at a service station, when he quite impulsively decided to become a race-car driver.

“A man kept coming in the station with posters advertising stock car racing nights at Lanham Speedway,” White recently told Autoweek from the side porch of his home in Taylorsville. “I saved up some money to go with my wife and her brother and his wife. I had no earthly idea what I was going to see. I had grown up near North Wilkesboro Speedway, but had never been there. Lanham was the first time I’d ever seen a race track and a race car. It was in the early 1950s and I was pretty young.”

In every sense of the word, it was a life-changing experience It’s a virtual certainty that Rex White is NASCAR’s second-most underappreciated Cup Series champion, trailing only 1950 champion the late Bill Rexford. But be warned: a closer look at White’s career reveals a fiercely competitive, highly successful, doggedly determined man who doesn’t fit into any “superstar” category except one: he hated losing more than almost anything in life.

rex white 1960 nascar cup champion
Chevrolet driver Rex White was the 1960 NASCAR Cup Series champion, after posting six wins and 35 top 10s in 41 starts.

RacingOneGetty Images

“The pits were outside, so you couldn’t see the cars until they came out on the track,” White recalled. “The first one out (for practice) was numbered 4-F. I don’t know, maybe the driver hadn’t passed his Army physical. He hadn’t been out there long before I leaned over and told my brother-in-law, ‘Right there; that’s what I’m going to do.’ I decided right then and there to become a racer.”

Later that evening White slipped through the fencing and roamed the pits to get closer to the cars. He became a fan of Frankie Schneider, a local favorite and consistent winner. When Schneider’s regular crewman was drafted into the Korean war White offered himself—and was hired—as a volunteer gofer. Once inside racing, it was his passion for the next 15 years.

rex white
Rex White poses with his 1959 Chevrolet that he ran at the first Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. White ended the race in 26th position after suffering an engine failure on lap 174. His winnings: $100.

RacingOneGetty Images

All this was shortly after fellow Washington-area native and Daytona Beach resident Bill France began promoting stock car racing along the beach south of in his adopted hometown. Within a few years White would become one of his biggest winners and earliest champions. And other than those inside NASCAR, hardly anyone noticed.

“It wasn’t my nature to be the center of attention,” White explained. “If a newspaper reporter came my way, I’d dodge him like a…



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