- Joe Epton held the position of chief timer and scorer for NASCAR from the series' first race in 1948 until 1985.
- Epton oversaw the evolution of the sport's scoring go from pencil and paper to the high-tech electronic timing and scoring of the 21st century.
- Epton's wife Juanita began working as a ticket-seller for the races on Daytona Beach from the mid-40s and has worked at the Daytona International Speedway since the first Daytona 500 in 1959.
Joe Epton never started a NASCAR race, but as the series' first head of timing and scoring, he had the last word on many races throughout the sanctioning body's first five decades.
Even before the birth of NASCAR, Epton grew up a race fan in Spartanburg, South Carolina, attending races at the fairgrounds in the late 1940s and eventually striking up a relationship with regional track promotor Joe Littlejohn. That led to Epton taking on different jobs at the local tracks, including that of chief scorer.
Through his association with Littlejohn, Epton met Bill France in 1946. The future founder of NASCAR was looking for someone to run the scoring operation of his would-be racing circuit and offered the job to Epton for $25 a race.
Epton not only jumped at offer, he went on to hold the position of chief timer and scorer for NASCAR from the series' first race in 1948 on Daytona Beach to the first Cup Series race at Charlotte a year later until his retirement in 1985. Epton oversaw the evolution of the sport's scoring go from pencil and paper to the high-tech electronic timing and scoring of the 21st century.
From his obituary, as publishing in the Daytona Beach-News Journal in 2005:
"During his tenure, Mr. Epton probably attended more NASCAR races than anyone, covering literally thousands of events from New York to Florida to Utah and all points in between. He was known as one of the best-liked officials and counted many of the drivers as friends.
"He was always in the pit area prior to the races, chatting with competitors and crews alike. Mr. Epton's amazing memory never dimmed. He could recall races and facts from 60 years ago with ease and his quick wit made for entertaining storytelling of racing's bygone days."
Epton was hardly the only member of his family who has left a lasting mark on NASCAR. His wife, Juanita, is a NASCAR pioneer in her own right. A veteran of the Daytona International Speedway ticket office, Juanita began working as a ticket-seller for the races on Daytona Beach from the mid-40s and has worked at the Daytona International Speedway since the first Daytona 500 in 1959.
In August of this year, the 102-year-0ld Juanita was honored by the Speedway as officials there renamed the ticket office the "Lightnin' Epton Ticket Office" as a hat tip to NASCAR's oldest and longest continuous employee.
"What more can you ask for?" Juanita told the Ormond Beach (Fla.) Observer this past August. "If you're a race fan, this is it. Isn't it wonderful that people keep coming back? Once you get involved with the speedway, it's hard to turn your back on it."