DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Raymond (Ray) Elder, who won a record six championships in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, died Thursday at the age of 69.
Elder – who won titles in 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974 and 1975 – also distinguished himself and his West Coast-based family racing team by winning two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway in 1971 and 1972.
“Ray was a tough competitor and a great representative of NASCAR on the West Coast,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president, regional and touring series. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Elder’s team – with his father, Fred, the car owner and brother, Richard, the crew chief – were well known as the “Racing Farmers” from Caruthers, Calif. Following their retirement from racing, they continued their farming operation. In addition, Elder and his wife, Pat, ran a mini-mart in Caruthers, located about 15 miles from Fresno.
Elder is second on the list of career wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with 47 and also second on the list of career series poles, also with 47. His first series win came at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif., in 1966 and his last victory was at Craig Road Speedway in Las Vegas in 1978.
In addition to his six championships, Elder finished as the runner-up in the final standings three straight years – 1966, 1967, 1968. He holds various records in the modern era of the series, including the most consecutive starts, with 121, and the most top 10 finishes in a season, with 27.
Elder received the Most Popular Driver Award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West eight times, seven in consecutive years. He was among the drivers named to the “NASCAR K&N Pro Series West All-Time Top-10,” compiled by NASCAR and NASCAR Insider in 2005. He was among the inaugural inductees into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame in 2002 and was inducted into the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.