Cup Champion: 1960
Born: August 17, 1929
Hometown: Spartanburg, S.C.
Rex White is a perfect example of what it takes to achieve success. He grew up while the country was in the grip of the Great Depression and spent much of his youth working long hours on a farm. He also suffered from polio as a child but none of this deterred him from his dream.
“Most of the lessons I have learned have stayed with me all my life. The biggest one was how to conquer fear,” White wrote in his autobiography, “Gold Thunder.”
White was born in Taylorsville, N.C. but later moved to Maryland and began racing on the short tracks in the area. In1956, he entered his first race in the NASCAR Grand National Series (now Sprint Cup). He was winless during his first two seasons but in 33 races, he captured 20 top-10 finishes.
In 1958 White moved to Spartanburg, S.C. and joined forces with his friend Louis Clements. Clements became his partner and chief mechanic. Together, they evolved into a formidable team.
They quickly found success with two wins that first year and 17 top-10s that included 13 top-five finishes. White was ranked seventh in the point standings at the completion of the season.
White’s consistency and ability to run up front paid off in 1960 when he won the Grand National Championship. He competed in 40 races with six wins, three poles and 35 top-10s, including 25 top-five finishes. His dominance during the season earned him the title of stock car driver of the year and the most popular driver award.
The following season, White had another impressive year. He took home seven wins and finished second in the point standings. In 1962 his eight victories earned him a fifth place spot at the end of the year. He finished the 1963 season in ninth position.
Rex White retired in 1964 after running in only six races, stating that he couldn’t make enough money to make a living. His total career earnings were $223,51. In comparison, Denny Hamlin’s first place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2013 paid $322,350.
His career may have been short compared to today’s standards but it was significant. He finished in the top-10 70 percent of the time. His 28 victories places him 23rd on the all-time list of premier series winners and his average finishing position of 8.983 is the fourth best in the history of NASCAR.
White remains active in the racing community and enjoys making appearances where he can interact with his fans and sign autographs. If you love the history of NASCAR, pick up his autobiography entitled “Gold Thunder,” the nickname of his famous No. 4 gold and white Chevy. It’s a slice of stock car racing history from White’s unique perspective of NASCAR’s beginnings.
1960 – NASCAR Grand National Series Champion (Now Sprint Cup)
1960 – The Most Popular Driver Award
1960 – Driver of the Year Award
1974 – Inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame
1998 – Named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers
2003 – Inducted into Georgia Racing Hall of Fame
2003 – Received Smokey Yunick Pioneer Award
2004 – Author – Gold Thunder: Autobiography of a NASCAR Champion
2008 – Inducted into Talladega Walk of Fame
2011 – Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame
2014 – Nominee to the NASCAR Hall of Fame