David Pearson (racing driver)

David Pearson
Pearson in 2008
BornDavid Gene Pearson
(1934-12-22)December 22, 1934
Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedNovember 12, 2018(2018-11-12) (aged 83)
Spartanburg, South Carolina, U.S.
Achievements1966, 1968, 1969 Grand National Series Champion
1976 Daytona 500 Winner
1976, 1977, 1979 Southern 500 Winner
1961, 1974, 1976 World 600 Winner
1972, 1973, 1973 Winston 500 Winner
NASCAR Triple Crown Winner (1976)
Led Winston Cup Series in wins in 1966, 1968, 1973, and 1976
Led Winston Cup Series in poles in 1964, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1976
Awards1960 Grand National Series Rookie of the Year
Named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers (1998)
International Motorsports Hall of Fame Inductee (1990)
Motorsports Hall of Fame of America Inductee (1993)
NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee (2011)
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career
574 races run over 27 years
Best finish1st (1966, 1968, 1969)
First race1960 Daytona 500 qualifier #1 (Daytona)
Last race1986 Champion Spark Plug 400 (Michigan)
First win1961 World 600 (Charlotte)
Last win1980 CRC Chemicals Rebel 500 (Darlington)
WinsTop tensPoles
NASCAR Xfinity Series career
6 races run over 2 years
Best finish35th (1982)
First race1982 Southeastern 150 (Bristol)
Last race1983 Sportsman 200 (Dover)
First win1982 Coca-Cola 200 (Rockingham)
WinsTop tensPoles
NASCAR Grand National East Series career
3 races run over 1 year
First race1972 NASCAR Grand National East Series
Last race1972 NASCAR Grand National East Series
First win1972 NASCAR Grand National East Series
WinsTop tensPoles

David Gene Pearson (December 22, 1934 – November 12, 2018) was an American stock car racer from Spartanburg, South Carolina. Pearson began his NASCAR career in 1960 and ended his first season by winning the 1960 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award.[1] He won three championships (1966, 1968, and 1969) and every year he was active he ran the full schedule in NASCAR's Grand National Series (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series).[1] NASCAR described his 1974 season as an indication of his "consistent greatness". That season he finished third in the season points having competed in only 19 of 30 races.[2]

At his finalist nomination for NASCAR Hall of Fame's inaugural 2010 class, NASCAR described Pearson as "... the model of NASCAR efficiency during his career. With little exaggeration, when Pearson showed up at a race track, he won."[2] Pearson ended his career in 1986, and currently holds the second position on NASCAR's all-time win list with 105 victories; as well as achieving 113 pole positions.[1] Pearson was successful in different venues of racing; he won three times on road courses, 48 times on superspeedways, 54 times on short tracks, and had 23 dirt track wins.[1] Pearson finished with at least one Top 10 finish in each of his 27 seasons.[1] Pearson was nicknamed the "Fox" (and later the "Silver Fox") for his calculated approach to racing.[3] ESPN described him as being a "plain-spoken, humble man, and that added up to very little charisma."[4]

Pearson's career paralleled Richard Petty's, the driver who has won the most races in NASCAR history.[5] They accounted for 63 first/second-place finishes[5] (with the edge going to Pearson). Petty said, "Pearson could beat you on a short track, he could beat you on a superspeedway, he could beat you on a road course, he could beat you on a dirt track. It didn't hurt as bad to lose to Pearson as it did to some of the others, because I knew how good he was."[5] Pearson said of Petty: "I always felt that if I beat him I beat the best, and I heard he said the same thing about me." Petty had 200 wins in 1,184 starts while Pearson had less than half of Petty's starts with 105 wins in 574 starts.


Pearson was born near Spartanburg, South Carolina. When Pearson was young, he climbed a tree at the local stock car racing track (Spartanburg Fairgrounds) to see the races. Pearson said, "I'd always been interested in cars, and I decided right then that was what I wanted to do with my life." He worked with his brother in a car body repair shop, and used the money to purchase a Ford coach. Pearson removed the fenders to convert the vehicle into a street rod. He jumped the car over ditches until he rolled it over. His mother paid him to junk the car and he used the money to purchase another car to build. In 1952, he raced a 1940 Ford at dirt tracks and won $30 in an outlaw class race. He kept winning and attracted the attention of Spartanburg's racing community, including Joe Littlejohn.[6]

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