Legendary Nascar Driver David Pearson passes

David Pearson, NASCAR Hall of Famer with 105 wins, dies at 83

Following his rookie of the year-winning season in 1960, Pearson earned his first career victory in 1961.

The NASCAR world served an outpouring of reaction after Pearson's death.

David Pearson, widely respected as one of the best drivers in the history of NASCAR, died on Monday.

"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", NASCAR CEO Jim France said in a statement".

That rivalry was no different than what I experienced during my childhood between the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.

Perhaps the greatest measure of Pearson's talents was his mastery of Darlington Raceway in SC, not far from where the driver grew up in Spartanburg - once the hub of NASCAR stock vehicle racing.

Pearson tangled again with Petty at the 1976 Daytona 500, when they collided near the finish line while well ahead, both cars winding up in the grass infield. 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.

Bottom line: in his prime, no one was better than the Silver Fox. No driver ever tamed Darlinton as often as Pearson did - not Earnhardt, Gordon or Petty. Sometimes he'd make a mistake and I'd pass him. I had no reference and I was lost. "I was blessed to watch and race with David Pearson and in my childhood memories of race tracks, David is there". "When he retired, he had three championships - and millions of fans". Pearson stopped the van in what used to be Turn 1 and suggested I should be out of the accelerator at this point. That forced Petty to go along the wall and overtake him in order to avoid a rear-end collision. I then thought to myself, as the van began rolling again, this is not going to work because it's five vehicle lengths too soon.

"We stayed close, and I enjoyed visits to see David when going through SC". "David and I battled each other for wins, most of the time finishing first or second to each other. It seemed 10 vehicle lengths too soon!"

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I then asked the greatest driver ever: When making a lap at Darlington Raceway, when should I be full throttle?

"And so I said, David, what's your answer". Petty started 123 races from the pole position over the course of his career. David is a Hall of Fame driver who made me better. Pearson, who won 18.29 percent of his races, was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2011.

I realized on that day that your body will eventually fail you in an attempt to stay relevant, but your mind seldom does. "I ran hard because he'd make me run hard".

Even years after his prime, Pearson was always Steve McQueen cool; it was his persona on and off the track.

Pearson and his wife, Helen, had three sons, Eddie, Larry and Ricky.

He won 105 races, which is second only to fellow legend Richard Petty. When the gentleman posed the same question to Pearson, he responded: "I agree with Richard".

"His fierce competitiveness and passion for the sport endeared him to the NASCAR faithful", Darlington Raceway president Kerry Tharp said.

He was the Silver Fox, and there will never be another. He clearly had the once-in-a-generation talent.

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