Ray Nichels
Ray Nichels
Category: Historic
CLASS OF: 2021
BORN: September 10, 1922
DIED: November 25, 2005

Nichels' teams won NASCAR, USAC, ARCA & IMCA titles
Three-time USAC stock-car champion (1961, 1962, 1967)
House car builder for Pontiac & Chrysler in that era
Only mechanic to win poles at Indy & Daytona in same year (1957)

NASCAR Cup Series (1957-1972):
Titles: 1962
Victories: 11. Poles: 12
Starts: 227


Nichels Engineering was a major force in stock car racing in the 1950s and ‘60s. The “house” racecar builder for Pontiac (1956-63) and Chrysler (1964-70), Nichels won titles in USAC, NASCAR, ARCA and IMCA. Nichels-built Pontiacs dominated stock car racing in 1961 and ‘62. Paul Goldsmith captured the USAC crown both years; Joe Weatherly took the ‘62 NASCAR title. Don White won the 1967 USAC title. In 13 years of NASCAR competition, Nichels Engineering tallied 89 Top 10s, 62 Top 5s, 12 poles and 11 wins, seven at Daytona. Nichels started campaigning midgets when he was 15, then Indy cars, narrowly missing the 1950 AAA national championship with his home-built special with Paul Russo at the wheel. He was the only mechanic to win poles at Indy and Daytona the same year (1957). Just before he died, Nichels was asked why he agreed to race Pontiacs at a time the brand wasn’t known for performance. “I was just dumb enough,” he said, “to think that you could make anything go.”

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