'Silver Fox' Pearson Has Passed Away At 83

Doug Mendoza
November 16, 2018

David Pearson will forever be remembered as the guy puffing a cigarette at 190 miles per hour with the King in his crosshairs, during the pinnacle years of American stock-car racing.

We rolled around the track slowly with the three-time champion at the wheel of a van owned by my PR director, Ron Miller. "He captured his first of 105 wins in the 1961 Coca-Cola 600". He was first to exceed 190 miles per hour at Daytona, won a record 10 times at Darlington, and scored another record 14 pole positions at Charlotte, 11 of which he secured consecutively from 1973 to 1978 (the track hosted two premier events a year in that era). That's an accomplishment that will never be matched again.

"He's probably the one that made me win as many as I did", Pearson said. "The answer has always been David Pearson", Petty said Monday night in a statement.

Pearson's rivalry with Richard Petty is one of the most storied in auto racing.

"David Pearson could beat you on dirt, he could beat you on pavement, he could beat you on a road course, he could beat you on a short track or he could beat you on a superspeedway", Petty told Sports Illustrated in 1998. His family reported that Pearson suffered a stroke in December 2014. Quick on his feet, Pearson was able to re-fire his engine and go 30 miles per hour across the line to win the race.

"David and I raced together throughout our careers and battled each other for wins - most of the time finishing first or second to each other".

Pearson was more of a quiet, calm personality than the charismatic Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson. He pushed me just as much as I pushed him on the track.

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He won 105 races, which is second only to fellow legend Richard Petty.

Although Pearson's final Cup win came at Darlington Raceway in 1980, he remained competitive throughout his part-time run in the 1980s, scoring various top tens. We were lucky to be able to call him one of our champions. NASCAR's Silver Fox David Pearson has died at 83.

"The man they called the "Silver Fox" was the gold standard for NASCAR excellence".

We will update this article with more information as it becomes available.

Chip Ganassi: "RIP David Pearson".

Pearson never competed in a full season, driving the bulk of his career with the Wood Brothers in his famous No. 21 vehicle.

Richard Petty and Pearson engaged in one of the sport's greatest finishes in the 1976 Daytona 500 when they crashed coming to the checkered flag. The track was the site of many special moments for Pearson. And despite their intense rivalry, Petty and the Spartanburg born, SC native remained good friends after their days behind the wheel ended.

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