REX WHITE

When NASCAR celebrated its 50th Anniversary it took time to honor what they considered the top 50 NASCAR drivers of all time. One of those men was Rex White.

Rex is hardly a household name to racing fans today but many older fans remember and respect his accomplishments. Rex was Chevrolets best drover from the late fifties through 1963 when GM came down hard on its divisions who were providing support to drivers and owners who raced in NASCAR as well as other sanctioning bodies.

Rex has teamed up in 1959 with Louis Clements and they became a very formidable force in NASCAR racing. Rex and Louis met when they were on the Chevrolet Factory Racing Team (see picture) racing the #44, a Black Widow Fuel Injected '57. Before the American Manufactures Association's (AMA) ban on supporting all forms of racing in 1957 you could go to your local Chevy dealer's showroom and order a stock car ready to race. Who built these race cars to order? SEDCO, the Southern Engineering and Development Company. Jim Rathman for Chevrolet ran SEDCO before the AMA's ban on racing. The SEDCO crew would take the model you ordered from the Chevrolet Lakewood assembly plant in Atlanta and modify it at the SEDCO shop. They only built seven racecars before the ban was put in place. An interesting Footnote is that after the '57 Daytona Beach race Fuel Injection was banned from Competition for the rest of the season thus the term "Black Widow". Not only that but Rathman moved his entire operation to Miami. Chevrolet quit providing made to order stock cars and went undercover with its support for NASCAR through Rex and Louis. The factory support for racing was hidden in Chevrolets Marin engine Division.
Part of the Chevrolet Factory Racing Team

Rex won 28 NASCAR Grand National races. That was more Grand National races than the more well-known drivers you often hear about from that era like Lee Petty, Junior Johnson, Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly and Fireball Roberts. It's nice to win more races than your contemporaries but this is where it gets good. Rex was not only Chevrolets best driver and NASCAR's Grand National divisions win-ingest driver he was NASCAR's most consistent. Rex entered 233 NASCAR Grand National races in his career and finished in the top ten 163 times. That's about 70%! Tim Flock is the only driver that is close to Rex in the Grand National event category. Those facts are easy to obtain if you have a copy of Greg Felden's "Forty Years of Stock Car Racing" and know how to work a calculator. That's a record that is not likely to be broken because today's drivers have such long careers.

There are a lot of memories attached to Rex White's career. Just to name a few.

  • In 1961 Rex White was going for his second Grand National Championship
    in a row when fellow Chevrolet driver Ned Jarrett nosed him out by 830
    points, that was the closest points race of the early sixties.
  • Richard Petty won 200 races. He won his first by beating Rex at Charlotte
    on February 28, 1960.
  • Rex was the only Chevrolet driver to win on a Super-speedway with the
    409 V8. The 409 and 348 were designed to be a truck engines. The "W" block as it was called won
    two Grand National championships one as a 348 V8 in '60 and the other as
    a 409 in '61. the RAT 396/427 motor, which started out as a pure racing
    engine never won a NASCAR Championship and became a truck engine.
    Go figure.
  • Rex and Louis performed the first tests for Chevrolet on the 427 Cu in
    Mystery Motor.
    By - Harold Doherty


    Rex and Louis at Mesa AZ. GM proving grounds 1963. Testing the new "Mystery Motor" One month later GM was out of racing for almost 10 years FORD was given a Mystery Motor to evaluate since NASCAR had allowed it to be used when it was not going to be put in production for '63. When FORD attempted to obtain replacement head gaskets in Detroit and none were available they raised a big fuss. Somehow The GM brass got wind of what its Chevrolet division was doing with a new engine they know almost nothing about. The s--- hit the fan. The BM brass pointed to The '57 AMA ban and down came the hammer to end any factory backing from GM this time for 10 years