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Bill Rexford
March 14, 1927- April 18, 1994

Bill Rexford was born in Conowango Valley, New York, he made his name driving stock cars in the region. When NASCAR introduced its "strictly stock" series, Rexford appeared in three races that were held in the Northeast, with a best finish of 3rd.

He became the first of two Northern drivers to regularly drive in the series in 1950, when it became known as the Grand National division, the other driver being his teammate, Lloyd Moore. That year, he won his first career NASCAR race at Canfield, Ohio.

By the end of the year, Rexford managed to involve himself in the race from the championship. He would end up benefiting from the misfortunes three other contenders. Two contenders, Fireball Roberts and Curtis Turner, went through major late season slumps at the same time that Rexford was at his best. A third contender, Lee Petty, had more controversial problems, as he was stripped of over 800 points (at that time, the equivalent of winning 4 races or 5 third place finishes) by NASCAR for racing in non-NASCAR sanctioned races.

At the final race of the year in Hillsboro, Rexford had a slight lead and battled with Roberts for the championship. Rexford nearly cost himself the title, when he had an early engine failure. Roberts was able to win a championship with a top 5, but he drove aggressively and tried to win. His own engine gave out with less than 50 laps to go, giving Rexford a dramatic, and controversial championship.


A very well done model replica by 'Steve' Website Gallery

Following his championship, Bill returned to racing in the Northeast in 1951, making a handful of appearances at some of NASCAR's bigger races in the southeast and a few northeastern Grand National events. His win at Canfield was his only career victory.

Over 50 years later, Bill is still the youngest driver to win a championship in what has become the Nextel Cup series. He remains the only driver from the Northeast to win a champion, and was the only Northerner to win a title in the series until 1992, when Wisconsin-born Alan Kulwicki won.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Rexford was the only series champion that was not included among NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.         Retrieved from Wikipedia

Models by Bill Rankin

1950 Season Recap

The 1950 NASCAR Grand National (now known as the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series) championship race is known for both its drama and its controversy. Bill Rexford, who is still the youngest driver to ever to win the NASCAR Winston Cup championship at the age of 23, outlasted stars Fireball Roberts and Lee Petty to capture the 1950 title. Petty and defending champion Red Byron were both stripped of valuable championship points for racing in non-NASCAR sanctioned events during the year. Had the drivers retained their points that were taken away, the point standings would have looked dramatically different, with Petty taking home the title.

Bill Rexford and Fireball Roberts traded the points lead back and forth coming down the championship stretch in what was one of the more exciting points battles in history.

FIVE RACES TO GO: North Wilkesboro, NC - Glenn "Fireball" Roberts was 46 points ahead of Bill Rexford in the point standings after the previous week's race in Langhorne, PA. With five races to go in the 1950 season, Roberts looked poised to increase his lead dramatically at North Wilkesboro since he was starting on the pole and Rexford and other contenders Lee Petty and Lloyd Moore were not entered in the race. However, Roberts had engine trouble and came home 16th, only picking up 2.5 points on Rexford. Curtis Turner, who was also in the mix for the championship, did not take advantage of Roberts' misfortune with his 22nd place finish. Roberts left North Wilkesboro Speedway with a 48.5 point lead over Rexford in the standings.

FOUR RACES TO GO: Vernon, NY - Oddly enough, points leader Fireball Roberts was not entered in the race at Vernon Fairgrounds, and like Roberts, fifth place Curtis Turner was absent from the event as well. Bill Rexford took advantage of his competitors' absence and used a sixth place finish to take hold of the points lead by 31.5 points. Lee Petty followed Rexford in seventh place. Lloyd Moore, who was still in reach of making the chase for the championship even more interesting, finished third.

THREE RACES TO GO: Martinsville, VA - Adding to the drama of the 1950 championship race, Curtis Turner was caught in a tailspin in the points standings. After leading the circuit for 5 consecutive weeks and as recently as the Southern 500 in Darlington (four races ago), Turner hit a streak of bad luck which continued at Martinsville Speedway. Turner had engine trouble and finished 17th, while rival Lee Petty was the runner-up. With Rexford not entered in the Martinsville race, Fireball Roberts again snatched the points lead from Rexford with a sixth place finish. His lead, however, only lasted a few hours.

TWO RACES TO GO: Winchester, IN - The NASCAR Grand National race at Funks Speedway in Indiana took place on the same day as the race in Martinsville. With most of the field participating in the Virginia race, Bill Rexford and Lloyd Moore sought to make their presence know in the points race. Moore did just that, winning the race in Indiana. Rexford finished third in the field of 13 starters and took the points lead back from Roberts. The points lead had swapped hands twice - in the same day, nonetheless - and Rexford went into the season finale with a 110.5 point lead over Roberts.

FINAL RACE: Hillsboro, NC - Bill Rexford left the door wide open for Fireball Roberts at Hillsboro, a mile-long dirt track. Rexford succumbed to engine problems early in the race, meaning Roberts could turn in a fifth place finish and still win the championship. However, instead of driving a conservative race, Roberts charged hard all afternoon and was leading for most of the second half of the race when his engine gave out on lap 126. The event was called at lap 175 of 200 for darkness and Rexford was in 26th place in the field of 29. Fireball Roberts' championship slid through his fingers with his 21st place finish. Rexford was declared the 1950 champion by the same margin as he entered the race. Lee Petty won the race at Occoneechee Speedway and finished third in the final point standings, although he was docked 809 points earlier in the year. Lloyd Moore finished the race in 17th place and was fourth in the final point standings, due to Curtis Turner's streak of misfortune, which hit a low point in the season's final event. He finished last in the field of 41 and was relegated to a fifth place finish in the final point standings.
From NASCAR.com

1950 Strictly Stock STANDINGS (TOP 10)
Rank Driver Points
1. Bill Rexford 1959   ------
2. Fireball Roberts 1849    -110
3. Lee Petty 1590   - 369
4. Lloyd Moore 1398   - 561
5. Curtis Turner 1376   - 583
6. Johnny Mantz 1282
7. Chuck Mahoney 1218
8. Dick Linder 1121
9. Jim Florian 801
10. Bill Blair 766


Print by Bill Rankin (Email to Purchase)

Bill Rexford's Oldsmobile Car Owner for the Championship run was Julian Buesink
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Penny Royal Race Track Reunion Fetes Racing Pioneers and NASCAR Immortals By Dave Sully
(Leon, New York) On Saturday, October 1st , an event was held in the small town of Leon, New York, located about 60 miles south of Buffalo, that revved up a lot of memories about a long departed race track, one that holds a unique position in the annals of United States auto racing. The track was called Penny Royal and was located in the hills outside the tiny community of Leon, a crossroads town on US Rt. 62. Penny Royal was a half mile dirt track built by the Leon Volunteer Fire Company on the sight of an old horse racing track of the same name. It operated from 1946 to the mid 1950s. Its staid history was similar to that of countless other race tracks that came and went around the country with one big exception. Among the many daredevils who raced jalopies around the dusty oval were two drivers who went on to become stars in a fledgling organization known as NASCAR. Indeed the youngest NASCAR champion in history, Bill Rexford, from nearby Conewango Valley, cut his teeth at Penny Royal, as did the oldest surviving NASCAR driver, Lloyd Moore, who hails from Frewsburg.

Through a remarkable set of circumstances a reunion was held on October 1st, at, appropriately enough, the Leon Fire Hall, which attracted a large number of former drivers, their families, friends, and racing enthusiasts, to view an amazing array of pictures and memorabilia from that long ago era when $25 could get one behind the wheel of a race car. Perhaps as important as the pictures, were the memories that were stirred in the group of drivers, whose ages ranged from the mid-seventies to ninety-three, and the stories they engendered. The reunion gave them the opportunity to renew old acquaintances, share memories with their fellow drivers, and to wax nostalgic with others in attendance. A notebook of thirty vintage photos was made available for all interested parties. The chance discovery of a booklet in the Leon Historical Society’s Archives by society member, Fred Milliman, set in motion a series of events, which culminated in the first of what is hoped will become an annual affair. Milliman, from Randolph, saw several old photos from Penny Royal and contacted two former drivers, Claude “Pee Wee” Hallett and Bill “Leadfoot” Stanky. After hearing some fascinating tales of derring-do from the two racing pioneers, more contacts were made, and it became apparent that there were many people living in the area who were associated with Penny Royal. The seed for the reunion emanated from that first encounter.

It was soon discovered that the late Bill Rexford, known in the area as one of the first NASCAR stars, having won the 1950 NASCAR Championship at the tender age of twenty-three, first raced at Penny Royal. In fact, Milliman’s father, Howard, was a mechanic for Rexford in the early days. It also came to light that Lloyd Moore, who finished fourth in the standings the year Rexford won the title, also started his racing career at the track. Lloyd, who at ninety-three is by far the oldest surviving NASCAR driver (the next oldest is 86) was contacted when word was received that he lived in the area, and he provided further insights into his experiences at Penny Royal before he followed Rexford into NASCAR.

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Strictly Stock Statistics

Year Age Races Win T5 T10 Pole Laps Led Earnings Rank AvSt AvFn
1949 22 3 of 8 0 2 2 0 370 0 785 12 23.0 7.3
1950 23 17 of 19 1 5 11 0 1302 98 6,175 1 20.0 10.9
1951 24 11 of 41 0 0 1 1 354 0 400 72 18.6 20.9
1952 25 3 of 34 0 0 1 0 396 0 150   27.3 20.0
1953 26 2 of 37 0 1 2 0 173 0 350   24.0 7.5
5 years 36 1 8 17 1 2595 98 7,860   21.1 14.2
Youngest driver to win Grand National Championship (Age 23)
 
Win Summary
Race
Win#
Date Race Name Track Make
1 5/30/1950 Canfield 150 Canfield Speedway Oldsmobile

Pole Summary

Pole# Date Race Name Track
1 5/30/1951 Poor Man's 500 Canfield Speedway

Rex Fax

  • Studebaker Racer:
    April 8, 1951
    - Mobile, Ala. Lakeview Speedway - ¾ mile dirt track - 112 mile race
    Bill Rexford, 1951 Studebaker #23, Perry Smith Studebaker Started 13th, finished 13th/24 entries
  • ARCA EXPERIENCE 1955: 33 races in 6 states produce Katona's first championship. Touring series champions in other MARC-sanctioned divisions include Roy Gemberling-Sportsman, Gus Acozili-Hard Top and Guy Devine-Factory Stock. Katona tops all winners with 8, as Ernie Derr wins 6 and Romine 4. Other winners include Mike Klapak, Dick Linder and Bill Rexford.
     

  • Bill Rexford's Oldsmobile Car Owner for the Championship run was Julian Buesink
     

  • Rexford was the only series champion that was not included among NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.     

 



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