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David Pearson (1934 – 2018), NASCAR’s “Silver Fox”

(ISC Archives via Getty Images)

Hall of Fame driver, second in all-time wins

David Pearson (1934 – 2018) was one of NASCAR’s first superstars. He was nicknamed “the Fox,” and later “the Silver Fox,” for his cunning and calculated driving. Over the course of his 27-year NASCAR career he accumulated 105 victories and a mountain of accolades. He was Rookie of the Year in 1960, three-time Series Champion (1966, 1968, 1969), and inducted into several motorsport halls of fame. In 1999 40 NASCAR insiders selected him as Sports Illustrated’s Top Stock Car Driver of the Twentieth Century.

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Died: Monday, November 12, 2018 (Who else died on November 12?)

Details of death: Died in Spartanburg, S.C. at the age of 83.


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Rivalry with Richard Petty: Pearson’s 105 NASCAR wins are second only to Petty’s 200 on the all-time leaderboard. The two frequently dueled one another for the top spot throughout their heyday, finishing one-two 63 times.

The two drivers also had contrasting personalities. While Petty was a flamboyant fan favorite, Pearson was quiet and plain-spoken. He was immensely respected by Petty and the other drivers for his skill and intelligence.

Notable quote: “That’s 50% of it right there, if you can outsmart somebody,” he said in an interview with Ford Performance.

What people said about him: “David and I battled each other for wins, most of the time finishing first or second to each other. It wasn’t a rivalry, but more mutual respect. David is a Hall of Fame driver who made me better. He pushed me just as much as I pushed him on the track. We both became better for it.” —Richard Petty, NASCAR driver

“He always kept that every-man aura about him, although he was certainly a superstar and maybe the biggest athlete ever from Spartanburg County. Even though he made lots of money, he never bought a huge house or drove flashy cars. He was just a regular guy in a lot of ways.” —Mike Hembree, longtime NASCAR writer

Full obituary: Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Related lives:

Bud Moore (1925 – 2017), NASCAR Hall of Famer

Dale Earnhardt (1951 – 2001), The Intimidator

Dan Gurney (1931 – 2018), legendary race car driver

Pete Hamilton (1942 – 2017), winner of the 1970 Daytona 500

Marty Robbins (1925 – 1982), country singer and NASCAR driver