Robert “Red” Bryon
(March 12, 1915 – November 11, 1960)
The first race run at the Martinsville “paper clip” occurred on September 7, 1947 and Robert “Red” Bryon won $500 out of a $2,000 purse.
Robert “Red” Byron holds a record that can never be broken: he was the first NASCAR points champion. Red won the first NASCAR-sanctioned race on the beach-road course on February 15, 1948. He won 11 races that year, finished in the top three 23 times, and captured the first NASCAR championship.
Boulder, CO, Robert “Red” Byron moved to Anniston, AL at an early age. During World War II Byron served as a tail gunner on 57 missions in a B-24. He was shot down over Kikta in the Aleutian Islands on his 58th mission; one he flew for a friend whose wife was expected to give birth to their first child at any moment.
Although the doctors did not know if he would ever walk again, Red was determined to race. After 27 months in military hospitals with doctors trying to rebuild his left leg, Red returned to racing in February 1946.
Red retired from racing in the early 1950’s to head a sports car racing team. He died in 1960 from a heart attack. He was only 45. In 1966, Byron was inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association’s Hall of Fame at Darlington Raceway.
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