If David Pearson had competed in as many NASCAR events as Richard Petty it’s possible our sport would have crowned a different man king. In 574 starts Pearson won 105 times. This gives him a winning percentage of slightly over eighteen percent, Petty’s is about seventeen-percent. However, while Pearson raced for 27 years he seldom ran a complete season.
David Pearson was born on December 22, 1934, in Whitney, South Carolina.
In 1952, at the age of 17, David started racing in a 1940 Ford, at a hobby race in Woodruff, SC. He won $13, but liked the thrill so much that he knew racing was his life.
In 1960, Pearson bought his own late model Chevrolet race car and headed to Daytona where he came in 18th. He also raced in the first World 600 and came in 10th.
In 1961, David won the NASCAR Grand National (Sprint cup) rookie of the year award, after winning three major victories, the World 600, Firecracker 250, and the Dixie 400 at Atlanta, making him the first man to win on three of NASCAR's Big Four tracks in one year.
In 1964, Pearson won eight races on the short tracks and was the fastest qualifier 12 times.
He missed the entire 1965 season because Chrysler refused to let its cars run on the NASCAR circuit, and he was driving a Dodge which is a Chrysler brand.
In 1966, driving in a Dodge, he won 10 of his 15 Grand National (Sprint cup) victories on dirt tracks. Even though he only raced 42 out of the 49 events that year, he earned enough points on to win the first of his three NASCAR championships.
Pearson drove a Ford in 1968, to 16 victories and 36 top five finishes, which led him to his second championship of three.
In 1969, Pearson became the first man to break the 190 mph barrier at Daytona, qualifying his Ford Talladega at 190.029 mph. He then went on to win the 125-mile qualifying race. He ended up winning the championship for the third and last time.
Pearson concentrated on big races in 1970, making only 19 starts and winning only one.
Ford, his new manufacturer, pulled out of NASCAR racing in 1971 and he went without a major victory.
In 1972 David won the Yankee 400, Motor State 500, Firecracker 400, Rebel 400, Delaware 500 and the Winston 500.
In 1973 David entered only 18 races, he won 11 of these events.
In 1974 David only ran 19 out of 30 races that year and finished second only to the greats, Richard Petty, and Cale Yarborough.
Pearson finished ninth in points in 1976, which was his last time in the top ten in cup points.
In 1979, driving for Hoss Ellington, David won his 105th and final victory in the cup series at Darlington. And he also won the “Most Popular Driver” award, this year and in 1980.
From 1973 to 1978 Pearson claimed an incredible 11 consecutive poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Silver Fox also mastered the track commonly called “Too tough to tame”. Darlington. With 10 wins and 12 poles, he is considered to be the only one to tame “The lady in black”.
In a career that spanned 27 years, Pearson never once ran every single race in a given season. When he came close to running the full schedule, he won a championship, or came darn close.
In total Pearson was in 572 races in his career, he rolled into victory lane 105 times, (second only to Richard Petty), finished in the top five, 301 times, and won a record 113 poles, and was the NASCAR cup championship winner in 1966, 1968, and 1969