Saturday, March 25, 2017

Johnny Ray Born In Eastaboga, Alabama - March 25, 1937

March 25, 1937
Johnny Ray
Born in Eastaboga, Alabama.
Ray began his career at the top level of NASCAR competition, the Winston Cup Series in 1974, making his debut at Alabama International Motor Speedway, now Talladega Superspeedway, finishing 41st of 50 cars in the event. He went on to race seven more times in the series between 1974 and 1976 with his best finish at Talladega later in 1974, when he finished 22nd. In 1975, Ray, a trucker by profession, set a world speed record for eighteen-wheeler tractor-trailers, 92 miles per hour at Talladega.

Ray entered the 1976 season planning to compete for Rookie of the Year honors in the Winston Cup Series. Competing in the 1976 Daytona 500, the second race of the season, Ray crashed on the 112th lap, skidding in oil before being hit by Skip Manning. Extricated from his wrecked Chevrolet, Ray was taken to Halifax Medical Center, where he was found to have no vital signs and was initially declared dead; last-ditch resuscitation efforts managed to revive Ray. While he survived the accident, and competed in some local events in Alabama over the next few years, he never participated in NASCAR competition as a driver again.

Following his recovery, Ray went on to own cars driven by Dale Earnhardt, Johnny Rutherford, and Chuck Bown during the late 1970s. He also owned a team in the 1990s for his son, Kevin Ray, competing on a limited basis in the NASCAR Busch Series and the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Supercar Series.

Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR
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