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T. Taylor Warren
Original NASCAR Photographer

Late Photographer Receives NMPA Myers Brothers Award
Written by Jay W Pennell   Dec. 5, 2008

While many Hardcore Race Fans may not know the name T. Taylor Warren, they surely know his work. The long-time NASCAR photographer made a name for himself right along with the sport he shot through his lens. Thursday in New York City, the National Motorsports Press Association honored the late T. Taylor Warren with the NMPA Myers Brothers Award.

Perhaps best known for his famous snapshot of the finish of the inaugural Daytona 500, Warren made his life shooting the sport of NASCAR. Warren's famous picture of Lee Petty, Johnny Beauchamp and Joe Weatherly crossing the line three wide led to the final decision to give Petty the victory.

Warren passed away on October 8, 2008 at the age of 83. Accepting Thursday's award on his behalf was NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter.

 "Whether they know it or not, millions of NASCAR fans since the early 1950s saw the sport through T. Taylor's eyes," said NMPA President Tom Jensen. "T. Taylor's images brought the sport to life long before the advent of NASCAR on network television and the Internet. More than that, though, T. Taylor was a true gentleman, respected by the racers and NASCAR officials, and admired by his fellow photographers and other media members. He was a class act all the way."

The lifelong staple in the NASCAR garage was honored with the Henry T. McLemore Award by the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2006, becoming the first photographer to be presented to the award.

While this journalist never had the benefit of meeting T. Taylor Warren, his presence in the sport was something that will never be forgotten. While drivers get the majority of the spotlight these days, there are numerous dedicated and loyal people that help make this sport go around. T. Taylor was one of those who laid the groundwork for those who followed after him and his contributions to the sport will never be forgotten.

Man’s passion leads to a lifetime of NASCAR photography

By Dwight Dana      Morning News reporter       July 17, 2008
 

FLORENCE — T. Taylor Warren, 83, knew from the time he first got his hands on a box camera in the early 1930s that he wanted to be a photographer.

And that dream came true for him when he graduated from Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology with a major in photography and a minor in color photography.
Warren’s brother told him he was “messing with roaring roadsters” while Warren was working for a photo lab in Milwaukee in the 1940s. Warren went out and took some shots at the Milwaukee fairgrounds.

He started making prints and selling them to the drivers. He kept up with the racing pictures after being moved to another lab in Kansas City, Kan.

Then along came Eastman Kodak Co., which recommended Warren’s talents to a Kodak lab in High Point, N.C. Warren was getting much closer to what real racing was about.

He made friends with a public relations representative from Bill France Sr.’s office in Daytona. France started NASCAR.

“I was hired part time in 1952 to shoot races on the beach in Daytona on the weekends,” Warren said. “Then they fired me at Kodak because they said I was spending too much time at racing events. Back then, racing was thought of as a redneck sport.”

Warren took pictures of all the NASCAR pioneers, such as Joe Weatherly, Curtis Turner, Fireball Roberts, Lee Petty, Cale Yarborough and others.

And he sprang to sudden fame when the Daytona International Speedway — the crown jewel of auto racing — opened in 1959. It was a photo finish between Lee Petty’s 1959 Oldsmobile and Johnny Beauchamp’s 1959 Chevrolet. Warren caught the action at the finish line with a twin lens Rollei (Rolleiflex) long before the days of camera motor drives.

Warren’s first time shooting a race at Darlington Raceway was the 1952 Southern 500. The late Fonty Flock won the event in an Oldsmobile. Known for his unique racing attire, Flock wore a pair of flashy Bermuda shorts throughout the race.

Warren is known far and wide in NASCAR’s photographic community. He is a familiar sight in his Goody’s hat with his camera strung around his neck.

Jim Hunter — NASCAR’s vice president of communications and a former president of Darlington Raceway — has known Warren for decades.


“I would say that T. Taylor is the godfather of photography in NASCAR,” Hunter said during a telephone interview Thursday from his home in Darlington. “If I’m not mistaken, T. Taylor was NASCAR’s first photographer. Every other photographer looks up to him. He is always willing to share his vast knowledge with the younger guys.”

And Warren’s not influential just from a photographic standpoint, Hunter said.

“T. Taylor’s conduct has always been above reproach,” said Hunter, who was a journalism major at the University of South Carolina in the late 1950s. “He’s a nice, nice man who is well respected and well liked.”

Warren and Virginia, his wife of 61 years, live in Florence. They previously lived for 31 years in Martinsville, Va., where they owned a photo studio.

“Taylor wanted to live in Virginia and I wanted to live in Florida,” she said. “We split the difference and moved to Florence. I bought the property here without him seeing it. He fussed and fumed until he saw it. It’s in the country, and we have our privacy on five acres.”


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