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. 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). 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.
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." 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. 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. Pearson finished with at least one Top 10 finish in each of his 27 seasons. Pearson was nicknamed the "Fox" (and later the "Silver Fox") for his calculated approach to racing. ESPN described him as being a "plain-spoken, humble man, and that added up to very little charisma."
Pearson's career paralleled Richard Petty's, the driver who has won the most races in NASCAR history. They accounted for 63 first/second-place finishes (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." 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.