Hylton won the NASCAR Winston Cup Rookie of the Year honors in 1966, and finished second in the season points standings. He won only two races over his career. Although, he didn't win a lot, he was always in the thick of the championship hunt. He finished in the Top 10 in the season points standings in ten of the twelve years between 1966 to 1977. James Hylton was born on August 26, 1935 to a Roanoke, Virginia family and was one of thirteen children. Hylton's early years centered primarily around farming but he soon found himself, like many other southern teenagers, immersed in the world of stock car auto racing.Hylton's career in auto racing began in the late fifties when he began working as a mechanic for the legendary Rex White. James, Rex and Louis Clements teamed to win 26 races and most importantly the 1960 NASCAR Grand National championship. In 1964, White scaled back his driving duties and James began his tenure as crew chief for the Ned Jarrett / Bondy Long team. During the 1964 season the team won 14 races and finished second in points. In 1965, the team won 12 races and won the NASCAR Grand National championship.
On July 8, 1964, Hylton made his first Grand National start at the Old Dominion 400 at Manassas, Virginia. James finished 19 and collected $100 for his efforts. Things improved dramatically in 1966, as Hylton finished second in the points chase and won the coveted NASCAR Rookie of the Year award. James also captured his first pole at Starlite Speedway in Monroe, NC. Hylton again finished second in points during the 1967 season while driving Dodge's for owner Bud Hartje. James was a model of consistency during this two year period as he had 46 top five finishes in 87 races. In 1968, James became a car owner / driver, a dual role that continues to this day. James found his way to victory lane for the first time on March 1, 1970 at the Richmond 500, driving the familiar number 48 Ford. During the late sixties and early seventies, Hylton amassed an amazing consistency record that was rivaled only by those of Richard Petty and Cale Yarbrough. On August 6, 1972, James forever etched his name in the history books by claiming the Talladega 500. Hylton led 106 laps of the 188 lap race and won $ 24,865 for the day. Hylton won by one car length over ARCA legend Ramo Stott.
Hylton continued driving the full schedule until 1982, when he handed over driving duties to Canadian driver Trevor Boys. James soldier own as an owner in NASCAR Winston Cup until 1993. James moved to the ARCA circuit during the nineties and continues to participate as a both a car owner and a driver to this day. On June 24, 2006, James Hylton started his first Nationwide Series race since June 27, 1982 at the AT&T 250 held at the Milwaukee Mile, at the age of 71 years and 309 days.
Shockingly, only weeks after "retiring", Hylton announced he was coming out to drive a #58 Richard Childress Racing-prepared Sprint Cup Series ride in the Daytona 500. After failing to make the field, he had announced plans to run more races during the year, but those plans fell through. He most recently has continued to run select races in ARCA and a Nationwide series event at Daytona, Starting 38th and finishing 36th. He was 23 laps down after spending time in the garage to fix a busted oil line. James finished 11th in 2011 arca remax and 13th in the 2012 arca remax series season setting age records.