The Silver Fox
DAVID PEARSON PREVAILED 105 TIMES
David Pearson ran his first race in NASCAR’s premier series
in February 1960. He eventually claimed three Cup Series
titles and amassed 105 victories in 574 series starts,
second only to Richard Petty (200) in the win column.
Born in Whitney, South Carolina, in 1934, Pearson’s first race came in a 1952 Hobby Stock event at a track in
nearby Woodruff. He earned $13.
In February 1960, Pearson built a Ford
for Late Model competition and hauled it to
Daytona International Speedway. The next
year, he collected major Cup Series victories
at Daytona International Speedway, Charlotte
Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway en route to rookie-of-the-year honors.
By 1966, Pearson had joined team owner
and fellow South Carolinian Cotton Owens
and logged 15 victories and his first Cup
Series championship. Two more titles came
with Ford’s powerhouse Holman-Moody
organization in 1968 and 1969.
In 1970 and 1971, Pearson began racing
a limited schedule of Cup Series races for
Holman-Moody and car owner Ray Nichels.
He enjoyed his best years with Wood Brothers Racing from 1972 to 1979 as he won 43
races with the Virginia-based team, including
11 of 18 starts in 1973.
Pearson and team owner Glen Wood
parted ways in April 1979 after a pit road
miscue at Darlington Raceway. Pearson
returned to the track that September to win
as a substitute driver for the injured Dale
Earnhardt. Pearson’s final Cup Series victory
came at Darlington in April 1980 in Hoss
Ellington’s Chevrolet, while his final start
was six years later at Michigan International
Throughout his career, Pearson’s reputation for laying back and striking late unnerved
his rivals. Of those, he and Richard Petty
finished first and second 63 times with
Pearson winning 33 and Petty coming out on
top 30 times.
ONE OF PEARSON’S
greatest victories came in
the 1976 Daytona 500 at
just 20 mph after a last-lap
crash with Richard Petty.
Pearson was chosen Driver
of the (20th) Century by a
select group of NASCAR
media members who covered
the sport in that era.
DURING A 26-YEAR
career, Pearson was
considered to be one of
the smartest, yet elusive
drivers in NASCAR’s long
and storied history. Even
his own crew members and
team owners didn’t know
his strategies for the closing laps of races. He was
known for saving his cars
until the final 50 laps.
PEARSON WON HIS SEC-
ond of three NASCAR premier
series championships in 1968
with 16 victories, 36 top-five
finishes, 38 top- 10 results
and 12 pole positions for team
owners John Holman and Ralph
Moody. Pearson led 3,950 of
13,907 laps that season with
an average finish of 5. 8 over
the 48-race schedule.
I ENJOYED BEING WITH THE
WOOD BROTHERS. WHEN WE WERE
AT THE RACE TRACK, WE WERE
ALWAYS JOKING AND KIDDING
EACH OTHER. IT WAS THE JOY AND
HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE.