Raymond Parks, the owner of the first NASCAR championship car and a pioneer in the motorsport died on Sunday, he was 96-years-old.
NASCAR released a statement in which they said Parks died at his own home in Atlanta. Parks, who was confined to a wheelchair was in attendance on May 20th for the inaugural opening of the NASCAR Hall Of Fame.
According to an ESPN conversation with NASCAR president Mike Helton said of the inauguration:
“It was good for the industry and so many current fans to see the man in person,” adding “the heart and soul or the spirit that got NASCAR started.”
Parks was the sole living member of the NASCAR team who started the organization in 1947 at the Streamline Hotel in Daytona Beach, Florida. Parks fielded the card Red Byron drove into the first cup series championship in 1949.
Parks also had a sorted past, leaving his Dawsonville, Georgia home in 1914 and running moonshine for some time which earned him a nine-month stint in a federal penitentiary in Chillicothe, Ohio.
Park then turned his life around, serving in the Battle of the Bulge during World War II (99th Infantry Division) and creating a series of successful businesses that included real estate ventures, gas stations, convenience stores, vending machines and a property sale to Georgia Tech.
Team owner Rick Hendrick said of his friend:
“It would have been really nice if he had lived until he had gone into the Hall of Fame,” and “His contribution to this sport was so, so great that would have been really cool for that to have happened.”
It’s a true loss for the sports, Raymond Parks will be missed by everyone close to NASCAR.