To say that Ronnie Sox was the greatest four-speed driver that ever lived is a bold, but i
Sox and the Sox & Martin race cars were loved by fans wherever they traveled, but the crow
Ronnie Sox, the quiet, blonde-haired, southern gentleman known for his mystical mastery of power-shifting a manual four-speed transmission passed away Saturday, April 22, 2006, at his home near Richmond, Virginia. Ronnie succumbed following a lengthy battle with prostate cancer. His beloved wife Diane, family, and friends were nearby when the legendary driver took his last ride.
During his long and storied drag racing career, the Burlington, North Carolina, native garnered practically every honor and championship available for the full-bodied drag race cars he loved. His wins included NHRA and IHRA World Championships, and he was nominated as AHRA Driver of the Year in 1968. In 2002, Ronnie was an inaugural inductee into the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame, just one of the many honors bestowed upon him during his five-decades-long racing career. in 2001, he was named Number 15 in the Top 50 Drivers poll announced by NHRA .
In 1971, Ronnie, along with other invitees Richard Petty and Bobby Unser, were honored guests at the White House, meeting President Richard Nixon. With help from a co-author, Ronnie penned a book titled: The Sox & Martin Book of Drag Racing, which was published in 1974.
Ronnie began his drag racing career as a teenager, sneaking into the local drags and racing his dad's '49 Oldsmobile Rocket 88. Seeking more speed, he soon switched to a Y-Block 312-powered '57 Ford. At the time, his family owned the Sox Sinclair Service, a combination Sinclair gas station and repair shop. the family business developed into a high-performance tuning and speed shop operation where young Ronnie gained both knowledge and customers for his rapidly expanding skills. It was out of that service station that he began running Chevy 409-powered cars and gained a reputation as a skilled driver and power tuner. His '62 409 Chevy "Bubble Top" Bel-Air sedan was a feared competitor in the Optional/Super Stock classes in the Carolinas, or wherever he chose to run his four-speed 409 Chevy.
In 1963, Ronnie partnered with another local Burlington, North Carolina, drag racer, Buddy Martin. The two had previously been competitors, but teamed up to campaign an aluminum front-end, '63 Z-11 option, 427 Impala in the new A/Factory Experimental class. Thus was born the fabled Sox & Martin racing team. Ronnie's own drag racing career would include notable accomplishments during each of the next four decades.
Ronnie Sox (right) talks it over with fellow Pro Stock competitor "Fast Eddie" Schartman.
Ronnie Sox's first Pro Stock 'Cuda leaves the starting line on a time trial run at Detroit
Although Sox & Martin ran a 426 Hemi-powered Belvedere sedan in NHRA Super Stock Eliminato