NASCAR legend David Pearson passes away at the age of 83

NASCAR legend David Pearson passes away at the age of 83
Nick DeGroot
By: Nick DeGroot
Nov 13, 2018, 1:07 AM

NASCAR has lost one of its greatest ever in David Pearson, a three-time Cup Series champion and one of the most accomplished racers of all-time.

Living legends of auto racing beach parade: David Pearson
David Pearson and Richard Petty crash after the finish
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and his throwback David Pearson scheme
Living legends of auto racing beach parade: David Pearson
Ryan Blaney, throwback David Pearson paint scheme

NASCAR icon David Pearson, born December 22, 1934, has passed away. Wood Brothers Racing confirmed the news on social media. 

The Spartanburg, South Carolina driver competed in 574 NASCAR Cup Series races between 1960 and 1986, winning 105 of them and locking up three championships in 1966, 1968 and 1969.

Pearson was also one of the fiercest rivals to NASCAR's most successful driver in history -- Richard Petty. The pair finished 1-2 on 63 occasions and took part in several of the sport's iconic moments, including the dramatic finish to the 1976 Daytona 500 in which Pearson emerged victorious.

Richard Petty statement on Pearson's passing

“I have always been asked who my toughest competitor in my career was. The answer has always been David Pearson, " said Petty in a release from Richard Petty Motorsports. "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.

“It wasn’t a rivalry, but more mutual respect. David is a Hall of Fame driver who made me better. He pushed me just as much as I pushed him on the track. We both became better for it.

“We have always been close to the Pearson family because they were in the racing business, just like us. We stayed close, and I enjoyed visits to see David when going through South Carolina.  We will miss those trips.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Pearson family and friends.”

NASCAR statement

“David Pearson’s 105 NASCAR premier series victories and his classic rivalry in the 1960s and ’70s with Richard Petty helped set the stage for NASCAR’s transformation into a mainstream sport with national appeal,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France. “When he retired, he had three championships – and millions of fans. Petty called him the greatest driver he ever raced against. We were lucky to be able to call him one of our champions.

“The man they called the ‘Silver Fox’ was the gold standard for NASCAR excellence.

“On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer sincere condolences to the family and friends of David Pearson, a true giant of our sport.”

Along with an impressive winning percentage of 18.29%, Pearson ranks second only to Petty in all-time wins (105) and pole positions (113).

Pearson, nicknamed 'The Silver Fox', also headlined NASCAR's second ever Hall of Fame class in 2011.

NASCAR Hall of Fame statement

"On behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we offer our most sincere condolences to Ricky, Larry, Eddie and the entire Pearson family. A member of the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011, David was indisputably one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history—and one of the greatest in all forms of motorsports of all time. His driving style epitomized his nickname: “The Silver Fox.” He had an incredible feel for any race car he drove and knew when to save his equipment and when and how hard to push his equipment at just the right time. The epic battles between David and his rival, good friend and fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, were key factors in the growth of NASCAR. Their rivalry grew our sport’s following through the 1960s and 1970s and to this day they are the two winningest drivers in NASCAR premier series history. Richard has always acknowledged that David was his toughest competitor on the track. Through their intense and epic battles, they maintained immense respect for one another during their driver days and beyond. David made an indelible mark on NASCAR history, and it is because of competitors like him that NASCAR is what it is today. We are forever indebted to David and are proud to help ensure his incredible legacy will forever be remembered."


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About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers David Pearson
Author Nick DeGroot