29/9/1923 - 13/4/2007
Joie Ray was an Afro-American pioneer in auto racing and was the first black person to be licensed by the American Automobile Association. Joseph Ray died 15 years ago, he was 84 , He would have been 99.
Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Ray was an Afro-American pioneer in auto racing.
Until the 1950s, black drivers were not even allowed to compete with whites, so they formed an all-black circuit. Joie was instrumental in breaking the color barrier in open wheel competition and, in 1947, he became the first black person to be licensed by the American Automobile Association on October 9, 1949, and first black driver to compete in sanctioned auto races.
In 1946 having heard of a Sprint car for sale for $450, Ray placed a one dollar bet on the number 450 and won $500 which he then used to buy the race car, the #7 Joe’s Special. Joie made his debut driving it on Easter Sunday in 1947 at Mitchell, Indiana.
He continued to race until 1963 driving sprint cars, midget racers and super stock cars primarily in the Midwest in AAA, USAC, CSRA and other sanctioned organizations.
He died of pneumonia.
Often credited with being the first African-American to race in NASCAR's top series, this honor actually went to Elias Bowie when he took the start in a Grand National race on the July 31, 1955 at San Mateo, California.