Atlanta: Impala heritiage - GM spotlight

Chevrolet Revisits Impala Racing Heritage In Atlanta Rex White, 1960 NASCAR Grand National Champion Will Drive 1962 Impala Race Car Replica in Kobalt Tools 500 Pre-race Event at Atlanta Motor Speedway ATLANTA - In preparation for the Kobalt ...

Chevrolet Revisits Impala Racing Heritage In Atlanta

Rex White, 1960 NASCAR Grand National Champion Will Drive 1962 Impala Race Car Replica in Kobalt Tools 500 Pre-race Event at Atlanta Motor Speedway

ATLANTA - In preparation for the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1960 NASCAR Grand National champion Rex White will drive a replica of a 1962 Chevrolet Impala race car identical to the one he drove to victory here in 1962. White's laps prior to the fourth race of the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series herald the return of a legendary nameplate to stock car racing as the Impala SS badge will adorn Chevy's Car of Tomorrow entry which makes its debut at Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend.

"The return of the Impala SS to stock-car racing marks a historic event in motorsports history," said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. "What better way to start a new chapter for Chevy in racing than revisiting its memorable successes. And few early Chevy drivers had as much success on the track as Rex White. What's even more fitting is that Rex lives in Atlanta and it's here that he won a special race for Chevrolet - the 1962 Atlanta Dixie 400."

Chevy's top driver in the early 1960's, Rex White was one of the most consistent drivers in NASCAR history. Six of his 28 career victories were won in 1960 and he finished in the top 10 in 35 of his 40 starts that year. He was also one of the first drivers to aim for the goal of a championship - now known as the Nextel Cup - and reach it (in 1960, when he was also named Driver of the Year). He sat on the pole 36 times and had 28 career victories in 233 starts. He also finished in the top 10 in the point standings six of the nine years he competed on NASCAR's elite circuit. In 1961, he won seven times and finished second in points (when Ned Jarrett, also driving an Impala, became the NASCAR champion).

White was a member of the original Chevrolet racing team and he drove a Chevy for most of his career, except for the latter half of the 1963 season and the 1964 season. A feat hard-pressed to beat today, he finished in the top ten in just under 70 % of his races. He led more than 50 races in his career with over 100 top-five finishes. From 1959 through 1963, Rex won more races than anyone else, competing against the likes of Lee Petty, Fireball Roberts and Junior Johnson.

"My best years of racing were spent driving Chevys and I couldn't pass up the chance to drive one like I used to around the track again," said White. "With their sponsorship, I was able to win a lot of races in those cars. If I was racing today I would definitely be driving a Chevy. It's a good feeling to know Impala is coming back to the oval track again."

One of White's most significant victories in a Chevrolet was here in Atlanta in 1962. It was here that White drove a 1962 Impala to the finish past Joe Weatherly by only 12 seconds. The car was fitted with Chevy's famous 409 engine (praised by the Beach Boys) and his victory here became the only superspeedway race a 409 engine won. It was also the first major win for Chevrolet since Joe Lee Johnson's win at Charlotte's World 600 in 1960.

"Atlanta was a boost for my career," wrote Rex White in his autobiography, Gold Thunder. "(It was) the longest event I ever won and the grandest moment in racing for me - and for Chevrolet fans."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ned Jarrett , Junior Johnson , Lee Petty , Rex White