Drivers

David Pearson
David Pearson

Born: December 22, 1934
Hometown: Spartanburg, SC

Driver for Cotton Owens Garage: 1962-1967
Performance in COG cars:
Races: 170
Wins: 27
Top 5: 81
Top 10: 113
Poles: 22
Winner 1966 NASCAR Grand National Championship


David Pearson Talks About Driving for Cotton Owens
By Jim Utter, Charlotte Observer
May 30, 2012

The Champion Series: David Pearson
By Allen Madding
January 29, 2005

Read the story of how Cotton Owens gave Pearson a driving lesson at Richmond International Raceway in 1964

View David Pearson's career NASCAR driving statistics

Read David Pearson's introduction on the 1964 Cotton Owens Garage brochure



Career Overview:

First Start in Racing: In 1952, 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 27 years on the NASCAR circuit, Pearson made 574 starts, qualified on the Pole 113 times, recorded 105 Wins, 301 Top Fives, and 366 Top Tens.

Career Accomplishments:

NASCAR Grand National Division Championship, 1966, 1968, and 1969.

Inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, 2011

Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, 1991

Inducted into the National Motor Sports Press Association's Hall of Fame, 1995

Inducted into Charlotte Motor Speedway's Court of Legends, 1998

Inducted into the Heroes of Bristol

David Pearson, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, is second on NASCAR Sprint Cup's all-time win list with 105, second only to Richard Petty. A fellow Spartanburg, SC, native, his friendship with local car builder Cotton Owens resulted in 15 wins and his first of three NASCAR Championships in 1966 driving his famous white and red #6 COG Dodge Charger.

Pearson was named #1 on NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers list and ranks second on NASCAR's all-time Pole Positions earned with 113, fourth in laps led with 25,425 and sixth overall in races led with 329 races.

Cotton Owens Dodge Charger
"The Silver Fox"

David Pearson, a three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, is second on NASCAR Sprint Cup's all-time win list with 105, second only to Richard Petty. Pearson, or the "Silver Fox" as he became known, set an unprecedented superspeedway qualifying record by winning 11 straight pole positions at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway form 1973-78. He won the 1976 Daytona 500. Pearson ranks second on NASCAR's all-time pole positions earned with 113, fourth in laps led with 25,425 and sixth overall in races led with 329 races. He won 11 of the 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup events he entered in 1973. Pearson won 43 races from 1972-79 while driving for the famous Wood Brothers.

For his efforts, he has been inducted into the National Motor Sports Press Association's Hall of Fame at Darlington (SC) Raceway in 1991. Two years later, in 1993, Pearson was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega, Alabama. Then in 1995, Pearson was inducted into Charlotte (NC) Motor Speedway's Court of Legends and in 1998, Pearson was also inducted in the Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway's Heroes of Bristol. In 2010, Pearson was named to the 2011 class in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He received the most votes, from 50 of 53 voters. "I am just proud that that many people thought enough to vote for me," Pearson said.

What Was it Like Driving for Cotton Owens?

Pearson: "He was good. During the week I’d go over there and help work on the cars too. When they were building new ones, I did a lot of welding on the things. We got along well, we really did. I enjoyed working with him and driving for him. He never did do like some of the drivers say the owners do and try to tell ‘em how to drive and all that. He never said a word to me about what to do or how to drive. I drove it just the way I thought I could drive it and he was satisfied with it. Like I say, we got along good. At motels at night, we would wrestle. We’d do all kind of stuff. He wasn’t like a boss man or nothing like that. He was just like a friend and we enjoyed doing what we were doing together."

David Pearson Cotton Owens Dodge 6


Cotton Owens Dodge Charger Grand National Champion
David Pearson claimed 15 wins to take the 1966 NASCAR Grand National Championship in a 1966 Cotton Owens prepared Dodge Charger (above).


David Pearson Dirt Trackin'

David Pearson

David Pearson Career Wins Overview

Year
Wins
Result
1961
3
-
1964
8
-
1965
2
-
1966*
15
NASCAR Championship
1967
2
-
1968
16
NASCAR Championship
1969
11
NASCAR Championship
1970
1
-
1971
2
-
1972
6
-
1973
11
-
1974
7
-
1975
3
-
1976
10
-
1977
2
-
1978
4
-
1979
1
-
1980
1
-

Total Wins: 105

Second All-Time on NASCAR's Career Victory List

*Drove Cotton Owens-prepared Dodge to First NASCAR Championship

1966 NASCAR Grand National Standings

Rank
Driver
Points
1
David Pearson
(Cotton Owens prepared Dodge)
35638
2
James Hylton
33688
3
Richard Petty
22952
4
Henley Gray
22468
5
Paul Goldsmith
22078
6
Wendell Scott
21702
7
John Sears
21432
8
J.T. Putney
21208
9
Neil Castles
20446
10
Bobby Allison
19910

David Pearson Career Driving Summary

Year Date Race Track Owner/Sponsor Car
1961 05/28 24 Charlotte Daytona Kennel Pontiac
1961 07/04 32 Daytona Daytona Kennel Pontiac
1961 09/17 46 Atlanta Daytona Kennel Pontiac
1964 03/10 9 Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds Cotton Owens Dodge
1964 03/28 11 Greenville-Pickens Cotton Owens Dodge
1964 04/12 15 Orange Speedway Cotton Owens Dodge
1964 06/19 31 Chattanooga Cotton Owens Dodge
1964 07/21 41 Lincoln Cotton Owens Dodge
1964 08/07 44 Rambi Cotton Owens Dodge
1964 08/21 48 Columbia Cotton Owens Dodge
1964 09/11 52 Hickory Cotton Owens Dodge
1965 08/19 41 Columbia Cotton Owens Dodge
1965 09/18 49 Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 04/03 9 Hickory Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 04/07 10 Columbia Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 04/09 11 Greenville-Pickens Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 04/11 12 Bowman Gray Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 05/15 19 Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 05/29 21 Dog Track Speedway Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 06/02 22 New Asheville Speedway Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 06/09 24 Smoky Mountain Raceway Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 06/25 27 Greenville-Pickens Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 07/10 30 Bridgehampton Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 07/14 32 Fonda Speedway Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 08/18 38 Columbia Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 08/27 41 Bowman Gray Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 09/09 43 Hickory Cotton Owens Dodge
1966 09/11 44 Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds Cotton Owens Dodge
1967 03/19 7 Bristol Cotton Owens Dodge
1967 03/25 8 Greenville-Pickens Cotton Owens Dodge
1968 03/17 5 Bristol Holman-Moody Ford
1968 03/24 6 Virginia State Fairgrounds Holman-Moody Ford
1968 04/21 11 North Wilkesboro Holman-Moody Ford
1968 05/05 14 Asheville-Weaverville Holman-Moody Ford
1968 05/11 15 Darlington Holman-Moody Ford
1968 05/17 16 Beltsville Speedway Holman-Moody Ford
1968 05/18 17 Langley Field Speedway Holman-Moody Ford
1968 06/02 20 Middle Georgia Holman-Moody Ford
1968 07/21 30 Bristol Holman-Moody Ford
1968 07/27 32 Fairgrounds Speedway Holman-Moody Ford
1968 08/08 34 Columbia Holman-Moody Ford
1968 08/10 35 Bowman Gray Holman-Moody Ford
1968 08/18 36 Asheville-Weaverville Holman-Moody Ford
1968 08/24 38 Langley Field Holman-Moody Ford
1968 09/06 40 Hickory Holman-Moody Ford
1968 10/05 46 Augusta Holman-Moody Ford
1969 02/20 4 Daytona Holman-Moody Ford
1969 03/09 7 North Carolina Holman-Moody Ford
1969 03/16 8 Augusta Speedway Holman-Moody Ford
1969 04/13 14 Richmond Fairgrounds Holman-Moody Ford
1969 05/17 20 Langley Field Holman-Moody Ford
1969 06/26 27 State Fairgrounds Holman-Moody Ford
1969 07/10 30 New Thompson Holman-Moody Ford
1969 07/13 31 Trenton Holman-Moody Ford
1969 07/20 33 Bristol Holman-Moody Ford
1969 08/17 37 Michigan Holman-Moody Ford
1969 10/05 47 North Wilkesboro Holman-Moody Ford
1970 05/09 13 Darlington Holman-Moody Ford
1971 02/11 3 Daytona Holman-Moody Mercury
1971 03/28 9 Bristol Holman-Moody Ford
1972 04/16 8 Darlington Wood Brothers Mercury
1972 05/07 11 Alabama Wood Brothers Mercury
1972 06/11 14 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1972 07/04 17 Daytona Wood Brothers Mercury
1972 08/20 22 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1972 09/17 26 Dover Downs Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 03/18 4 North Carolina Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 04/01 6 Atlanta Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 04/15 8 Darlington Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 04/29 9 Martinsville Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 05/06 10 Alabama Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 06/03 13 Dover Downs Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 06/24 16 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 07/04 17 Daytona Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 07/22 19 Atlanta Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 09/16 24 Dover Downs Wood Brothers Mercury
1973 10/21 28 North Carolina Wood Brothers Mercury
1974 04/07 7 Darlington Wood Brothers Mercury
1974 05/05 10 Alabama Wood Brothers Mercury
1974 05/26 13 Charlotte Wood Brothers Mercury
1974 07/04 16 Daytona Wood Brothers Mercury
1974 08/25 22 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1974 10/06 28 Charlotte Wood Brothers Mercury
1974 10/20 29 North Carolina Wood Brothers Mercury
1975 05/18 12 Dover Downs Wood Brothers Mercury
1975 06/15 15 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1975 08/03 18 Pocono Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 01/18 1 Riverside Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 02/15 2 Daytona Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 03/21 6 Atlanta Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 04/11 8 Darlington Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 05/30 13 Charlotte Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 06/13 14 Riverside Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 06/20 15 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 08/22 20 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 09/06 22 Darlington Wood Brothers Mercury
1976 11/21 30 Ontario Wood Brothers Mercury
1977 01/16 1 Riverside Wood Brothers Mercury
1977 09/05 22 Darlington Wood Brothers Mercury
1978 03/05 4 North Carolina Wood Brothers Mercury
1978 05/21 11 Dover Downs Wood Brothers Mercury
1978 07/04 16 Daytona Wood Brothers Mercury
1978 08/20 20 Michigan Wood Brothers Mercury
1979 09/03 23 Darlington Rod Osterlund Chevrolet
1980 04/13 7 Darlington Hoss Ellington Chevrolet














The Champion Series: David Pearson
By Allen Madding
January 29, 2005
 
David Gene Pearson, “The Silver Fox”, was born on December 22, 1934, in Whitney, South Carolina. On September 19, 1953, Pearson started his first stock car race in a hobby class event driving a 1940 Ford at Woodruff, South Carolina. In his first outing he won $13 and became hooked on racing. In 1960, Pearson purchased a Late Model Chevrolet race car and headed for Daytona where he finished 17th in his qualifier race and 28th in the Daytona 500. Pearson made 22 starts in the 44-event season driving his #67 Chevrolet. His best run of the season was at the 1/4-mile dirt Gamecock Speedway in Sumter, South Carolina where Pearson qualified on the pole and finished second.


In 1961, Pearson entered 19 of the season’s 52 events driving his #67 Chevrolet, Tony Lavati’s #66 Pontiac, and John Masoni’s #3 Pontiac. Behind the wheel of Masoni’s Pontiac, Pearson won the World 600 at Charlotte, the Firecracker 250 at Daytona, and the Dixie 400 at Atlanta. Pearson qualified on the pole in the #3 Pontiac for the National 400 at Charlotte, but finished 21st after having a fuel pump failure.

In 1962, Pearson competed in 12 events, driving Ray Fox’s #3 and #39 Pontiac, Julian Petty’s #44 Pontiac, Cotton Owen’s #6 Pontiac, and Bud Moore’s #08 Pontiac. In 1963, Pearson was behind the wheel of Cotton Owens’ #6 Dodge for 40 events and behind the wheel of Ray Nichels #02 Pontiac for one event. Pearson qualified on the pole at the .333-mile New Asheville Speedway at Asheville, North Carolina and for the Buddy Shuman 250 at the 4/10-mile dirt Hickory Speedway at Hickory, North Carolina.

In 1964, Pearson drove in 61 of the season’s 62 events behind the wheel of Cotton Owens’ #6 Dodge. He started the year of by qualifying on the pole at the season opener Textile 250 at the 1/2 mile dirt Concord Speedway at Concord, North Carolina. All told, he qualified on the pole 12 times, won 8 events, recorded 29 top-5’s, and 42 top-10’s. Even with such impressive numbers, Pearson finished 3rd in the points.

In 1965, Pearson ran 14 of the season’s 55 events behind the wheel of Owens’ #6 Dodge. Pearson put the Dodge on the pole for the August race at the 1/2-mile dirt track at Cleveland County Fairgrounds, near Shelby, North Carolina. He won the Sandlapper 200 at the 1/2-mile dirt Columbia Speedway at Columbia, South Carolina and the Capital City 300 on the 1/2-mile dirt track at the Atlantic Rural Fairgrounds near Richmond, Virginia.


In 1966, Pearson started 42 of the season’s 49 events in Owens’ #6 Dodge. He scored 7 poles, 15 wins, 26 top-5’s, 33 top-10’s and his first NASCAR Grand National Division championship.

In 1967, Pearson started 10 events behind the wheel of Owens’ #6 Dodge. He then began driving the Holman-Moody owned #17 Ford. In the 22 events Pearson entered out of the 49 events run that season, he qualified on the pole twice, won twice, and finished 7th in the points.

In 1968, Pearson made 48 of the year’s 49 events in the Holman-Moody #17 Ford. He qualified on the pole 12 times, won 16 events, scored 36 top-5’s, 38 top-10’s, and won his second NASCAR Grand National championship. In 1969, Pearson put the #17 Ford on the pole 14 times, and won 11 times and captured his third NASCAR Grand National Division Championship title.

In 1970, Pearson and the Holman-Moody team entered in only 19 of the season’s 48 events. Pearson recorded 2 poles and 1 win. In 1971, Pearson competed in 17 of the years 48 events, driving the #17 Holman-Moody Ford and Mercury, the #44 Giachetti Brothers Ford, and Ray Nichels’ #17 Plymouth, #33 Pontiac, and #99 Plymouth. He recorded 2 poles and 2 wins.

In 1972, Pearson began driving the #15 Ford for Bud Moore but after two outings moved to the #21 Ford and Mercury of the Wood Brothers. Pearson recorded 4 poles and 6 wins in 1972. In 1973, Purolator came on board to sponsor Pearson’s #21 Wood Brother’s owned Mercury. The team entered 18 of 28 events, qualifying on the pole 8 times and winning 11. In 1974, Pearson and the #21 Mercury entered 19 of the 30 events and recorded 11 poles and 7 wins. In 1975, they made 21 of 30 events recording 7 poles and 3 wins. In 1976, the team made 22 of the 30 events, and logged 8 poles and 10 wins.

The final lap of the 1976 Daytona 500 was a classic chapter in the Richard Petty/David Pearson battles. As the race wound down in the closing laps, everyone knew that David Pearson and Richard Petty were feeling each other out. In seventeen starts Pearson had never won the Daytona 500 and he was determined to win the 1976 running. Pearson and Petty spent the last twenty laps of the race exchanging the lead. The crowd in the grandstands at Daytona that day were on its feet waiting to see how the high-speed chess game would work out. Petty was had the lead entering turn one on the final lap. Everyone waited for Pearson to make the classic slingshot move past Petty’s famous #43 STP car. As they entered turn three, Pearson wrestled the lead from Petty and the car drifted high. Petty dropped low to retake the lead on the exit of turn three. Going into turn four, Petty was in front of Pearson by one-half of a car length. Coming off the fourth turn, Petty clipped the left front fender of Pearson’s car and sending him into the wall.

As Pearson was crashing, Petty was wrestling to regain control of his car. Petty overcorrected the fishtailing #43 STP Dodge and hit the wall. As Petty’s car slid across the track and into the grassy infield, the engine died. The car came to rest less than 50 yards short of the start finish line. Petty could not get the car to restart as the radiator was pushed back around the fan. As he spun off the wall, Pearson popped the clutch on the Purolator Mercury and refired the engine. He keyed the mic on his in-car radio and asked crew chief Glen Wood, "Where’s Richard?" Wood replied, "He’s stuck in the grass." Petty’s crew jumped over pit wall and ran out into the grass to push Petty’s car across the finish line. Pearson limped his wrecked car across the line. NASCAR quickly disqualified Petty for violating NASCAR rules, which require a car to cross the finish line on the final lap without any assistance. With no other cars on the lead lap, Pearson had won the 1976 Daytona 500.


In 1977, they enjoyed 5 poles and 2 wins. In 1978, they added 7 poles and 4 wins. In 1979, Pearson began the year with the Wood Brothers but that year, the Wood Brothers and Pearson experienced a rare pit miscue. On lap 302, Pearson stopped for what he thought was a two-tire pit stop, while the pit crew had planned a four-tire stop. When the jackman dropped the jack on the right side of the car and wheeled around to the left side, Pearson dropped the clutch and took off. Unfortunately, the crew had already removed the left side lugnuts. As Pearson turned the car to enter turn one exiting pit road, the left side tires came off the car and Pearson finished the race in 22nd place. Pearson resigned as the driver for the Wood Brothers following the event. He drove the Rod Osterlund #2 Oldsmobile and Chevrolet in 4 other events that year. Pearson sat on the pole at Riverside driving the Wood Brother’s #21 Purolator Mercury. He put Osterland’s #2 Chevrolet on the pole at Michigan. He won the Southern 500 at Darlington driving Osterland’s #2 Chevy.

In 1980, Pearson competed in 9 events driving the Hoss Ellington owned #1 Hawaiian Tropic Chevrolet and Oldsmobile winning the CRC Chemicals Rebel 500 at Darlington and qualifying on the pole for the Winston 500 at Talladega. In 1981, he drove 4 events in the #16 Joel Halpern owned Chevrolet but lost engines in 3 events. He qualified on the pole in the Mason Dixon 500 at Dover driving Kennie Childers #12 Oldsmobile but lost an engine in the event. He drove Hoss Ellington’s #01 Buick in the Southern 500 finishing 8th.

In 1982, Pearson competed in 6 events driving Bobby Hawkins #03 Carolina Tool/ Chattanooga Chew Buick. Pearson qualified the car on the pole for the World 600 at Charlotte and the Southern 500 at Darlington. In 1983, Pearson drove the #16 Chattanooga Chew Chevrolet in 10 events. The team ran 11 events in 1984. In 1985, Pearson and Chattanooga Chew sponsorship moved to the Hoss Ellington #21 Chevrolet for 8 events and then Pearson campaigned his own #21 Ford with Chattanooga Chew sponsorship for another 4 events. In 1986, Pearson competed in 2 events driving his #21 Chattanooga Chew Chevrolet before retiring as a driver citing persistent back spasms. Before retiring as a driver, Pearson constructed a garage, which his three sons used to launch their racing careers. With Larry as the driver, Ricky as the crew chief, and Eddie as a crew member, the family operated team won the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series Championship in 1986 and 1987.

During his career, Pearson was nicknamed “The Silver Fox” and was notorious for not being in the contention for the win until the end of the race. Charlotte Motor Speedway promoter Humpy Wheeler said of Pearson, “You never saw Pearson in a race, particularly at a superspeedway, until the end. The last ten-percent, he’d show up. Where was he the rest of the time? He was buried back in eighth or ninth or tenth, just waiting.”

In a 1993 interview with Circle Track Magazine, Richard Petty was quoted as saying, “Writers were asking me last year who was the best driver I ever raced against. I told them David Pearson. David and I ran more firsts and seconds than anybody else, and we raced together on dirt tracks, superspeedways, road courses, big tracks and little tracks. It didn't make any difference, you had to beat him every week."