Born in 1934 in Whitney, South Carolina, David Gene Pearson was rated as one of the top two stock car drivers in the world. He competed for the title against Richard Petty – himself a notable and excellent driver. During the course of his career David Pearson came to be called the ‘Silver Fox’ – a glint of light pulsing on the raceway. He made his racing debut on the Grand National racing circuit in 1960, where he took the Rookie of the Year award that year. Right from the start it was obvious that he was at the top of his game and he won the 1966, 1968 and the 1969 NASCAR Championships. His stiffest competition came from Richard Petty and their continual duels for first place are most memorable.
David Pearson’s NASCAR Winston Cup driving career started in 1960 and ended in 1986. During those twenty-six years he managed to achieve every accomplishment possible. In the majority of his races he constantly fought Richard Petty for first place and the two had a number of firsts and seconds to their names. Pearson won the national championships three times in the short four year period that he ran for it. He raced a staggering total of 574 events and he won 105 of them. He also enjoyed 113 pole positions during his racing career. The most memorable battle between Pearson and Petty occurred at the 1976 Daytona 500 when the two collided into the wall after slamming against each other’s front fender. Petty’s car spun off the track and he was left to watch helplessly as Pearson’s car limped across the finish line to claim first place.
In additiona to his numerous victories, Pearson also managed to receive a number of awards. He took the ‘Most Popular Driver’ Award in 1979 and 1980. In 1990 he was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame and in 1998 he was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers. He was also made a part of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1993. Pearson is one of only eight drivers to have won a Career Grand Slam in the history of NASCAR racing. Before retiring in 1986, Pearson built a family-run garage which incorporated his three sons in various roles and which won the Busch Grand National championship in 1986 and 1987. Unfortunately the team was disbanded in 1990 but most of his sons are still actively racing.
This year’s International Motorsports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony promises to be one to remember. Set to take place on the 24th of April 2008, the list of impressive achievements starts with those introducing the inductees.
The A-list of racing celebrities starts with Johnny Rutherford, the legendary three-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 who also enjoyed 27 career victories. He will be joined by David Pearson who won the Cup Series championship on three occasions in only four years. By the end of his career he had 105 official Cup victories under his belt as well as a whopping 301 top-five finishes. Ned Jarrett will also be introducing an inductee. Besides winning the NASCAR Cup Series title in both 1961 and 1965, Jarrett is tied with Junior Johnson at 10th place on the all-time list with 50 Cup victories under his belt. What makes Jarrett’s accomplishments even more remarkable, was that he retired at just 34 years of age at the pinnacle of his success – the only NASCAR driver to ever do so. He was inducted into the Hall himself in 1991.
While he may not be a racing great, he is a great name in the racing world – H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler, Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s President and General Manager, will also enjoy the privilege of introducing an inductee. Wheeler is known for being one of the top promoters in the field and was the man responsible for enabling LMS to hold night races as well as being one of the first tracks to offer all the thrills and frills that most of us now consider to come standard with any good racing track. Other announcers include Jim Hunter – who served as the Public Relations Director and the Vice President of Corporate Communications for NASCAR at different times in his 40-year career in the industry – and Buddy Martin, who became a racing legend whose backing of Ronnie Sox enabled the pair to make it to the top of the Drag racing profession.
As if that wasn’t enough, the inductees for this year are: Art Arfons (land-speed record breaker), Robert â€˜Red’ Byron (NASCAR champion), Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins (a drag-racing genius), Frank Kurtis (leading car fabricator), Everett “Cotton” Owens (NASCAR owner and driver) and Ralph Seagraves (Winston promoter).
Certainly any fan of the racing industry would consider it a rare privilege to be under the same roof as all these racing greats. Any fans of the industry simply have to do their utmost to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event. So book your tickets now and start making your plans to attend this years Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. You won’t regret it!