auto racing

Bill Rexford

Bill Rexford

Bill Rexford still holds the honor of being the youngest driver to ever win the coveted National Association Stock Car Automobile Racing (NASCAR) Grand National title. The former Conewango Valley resident was 23 when he captured the title and that is why Rexford, who passed away in 1994, was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.

Rexford was born in Conewango Valley on March 14, 1927 to Kermit and Edith Rexford. In the early 1940s, Rexford worked in his dad's Chevrolet dealership and raced track jalopies at bullrings (small local tracks) around the area. He got his start at the Penny Royal Speedway in Leon. After competing there for several years following a two year stint in the United States Navy, Rexford's talents were recognized by promoter Ed Otto, one of the NASCAR founders. Thus, Rexford made the move to NASCAR in 1949 and participated in three late season Grand National races.

His first competition at the Langhorne (Pennsylvania) Track saw a 14th place finish in a 45 car field. In his third appearance at Heidelberg, Pennsylvania, a half mile dirt track, he showed outstanding potential by placing third behind winner Lee Petty and Dick Linder in a 100 mile, 22 car field. Rexford wound up 12th in the final point standings with two top five performances and Red Byron emerged as the first point champion.

Fireball Roberts (right) congratulates Bill Rexford(center) on
winning the 1950 NASCAR championship. Roberts finished
second to Rexford in the final point tally. Bill France, Sr.,
President of NASCAR, looks on.

In 1950, Rexford competed in 17 races and drove a 1950 Olds 88 supplied by Findley Lake car dealer Julian Buesink. His lone victory came on May 30 in a 200 lap dirt track event at Canfield, Ohio, where he defeated such drivers as Petty, Bill Blair and Tim Flock. In the first ever Southern 500 at the new superspeedway at Darlington, South Carolina, Rexford finished fourth among 75 drivers as he showed his skills on pavement. Finishing ahead of Rexford were winner Johnny Mantz, Fireball Roberts and Byron. Later that year at the banked oil Winchester, Indiana, layout he finished third with Jamestown area resident Lloyd Moore taking first place in a Buesink car. On the way to becoming the youngest NASCAR champion at 23, Rexford had five top five performances and 11 in the top 10 en route to 1,959 points and won $6,175.00. Rexford also became the only Winston Cup Grand champion from New York State.

Left to right: Bill Rexford, Floyd Rowland, unknown, Bob Fisher, Wendell Anderson, unknown, unknown, Joe Ott, Mike Day. Photo taken at Penny Royal race track, Leon, NY circa 1948.

Rexford competed in only 11 National events in 1951 and won the pole position at Canfield on May 30. It was the race he won in 1950, but this time around he was involved in a crash. He lost control of his car and went over the guard rails and sustained minor chest injuries. This accident had a lot to do with the end of Rexford's Grand National career. He entered only four more Grand National events and his final NASCAR race was July 1953 in Rochester where he wound up fifth in a 100 miler. Rexford made 36 Grand National starts with eight finishes in the top five and 17 within the top 10. His career winnings were $7,700.00. In addition, he was presented a Bulova watch courtesy of Illustrated Speedway News and a Nash Rambler Convertible for claiming the title. Rexford got into trouble with NASCAR by competing in some non-organization events. That got him expelled and fined $1,000 by NASCAR at one point.

Bill Rexford (left) accepts the keys to a 1951 Nash Rambler for winning
the NASCAR championship in 1950. Nash Motor Co. was the first auto-
motive manufacturer to be a sponsor in NASCAR racing.

After leaving NASCAR, Rexford joined the Midwest Auto Racing Club of Toledo, Ohio, for three years. He was sixth in his first year with MARC, the forerunners to the ARCA, and stayed inside the top 10 the next two years. He drove for several car owners (each operated auto dealerships) and shortly after he had completed his first two rides his replacements were killed. Those deaths along with other factors changed his viewpoint and he decided to give up racing. Rexford and his wife, Peggy, moved to Parker, Arizona, and started a trucking business there for around 25 years, then, relocated to Hemet, California. Rexford's love affair with racing was rekindled in 1987 when he and his wife attended a NASCAR racing show in Atlanta. For each championship driver on hand, the officials there attempted to secure on loan the car that each championship driver had ridden to glory. There was no Olds 88 available, so, the Rexfords toured in a Hudson. Rexford was again in the limelight when he was interviewed by TNN at the Phoenix International Speedway.

After several months of illness, Rexford passed away on March 18, 1994. Due to his illness, he was prevented from attending his selection into the New York State Auto Racing Hall of Fame in Buffalo. Rexford was also inducted into the Friends of Auto Racing Hall of Fame in 1995. He has been known as NASCAR's forgotten champion, but had the privilege of being featured on three different racing trading cards.

Bill Rexford died in 1994. He was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

The trophy Bill Rexford received for winning the NASCAR race at Canfield, Ohio on May 30, 1950. Bill was driving car
#60, a 1950 Olds 88 owned by Julian Buesink. Bill and Julian went on to win the NASCAR championship that year.

photo courtesy of Rusty Buesink

Bill Rexford #59 at 1950 Southern 500 (Darlington, SC)

Lloyd Moore on the cover

Bill Rexford is #174 and Lloyd Moore is #59 on the cover of the
January 2010 issue of Circle Track

Lloyd Moore and Bill Rexford

Lloyd Moore and Bill Rexford, NASCAR drivers
in 1950

Dennis Rexford

Bill's son Dennis Rexford visited the CSHoF in
May 2016.

Bill and Peggy Rexford

Bill and Peggy Rexford


NASCAR Championship award

This 1929 Marmon with a Model A body was raced by Bill Rexford at Pennyroyal Speedway in Leon, NY in 1949. The following year Rexford became the youngest Grand National champion in NASCAR history driving for Julian Buesink. The Marmon/Ford was built by Jack Lawrence and George Mason. Lawrence went on to achieve national acclaim in sports car racing driving Saabs. Rexford, Buesink and Lawrence are all inductees of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame.

Bill Rexford's #60 on May 31, 1951 at Canfield Speedway. The crash at this race was
one factor contributing to the end of Rexford's racing career.

photos courtesy of Ron Polluck
Brenda Greenwood

Brenda Greenwood, daughter of
Bill Rexford, on her visit to the
CSHOF, August 2016.


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Hall of Fame
Auto Racing
Dick BartonDick Barton
Ron BlackmerRon Blackmer
Julian BuesinkJulian Buesink
Ronald "Skip" Furlow
Sammy LaMancusoSammy LaMancuso
Jack LawrenceJack Lawrence
Lloyd MooreLloyd Moore
Bill RexfordBill Rexford
Bob SchnarsBob Schnars



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