NASCAR America: Richard Petty, Leonard Wood remember David Pearson

David Pearson, NASCAR Hall of Famer with 105 wins, dies at 83

"My dad just told a story about Harry (Gant) and my next question is who is the best driver you ever raced against", Kyle Petty said.

"I'd have to say if there was one driver who inspired me the most on the racetrack it was you", Brad Keselowski said on Twitter.

Pearson was able to refire his Wood Brothers Ford and passed Petty's stalled Dodge for the win. I then thought to myself, as the van began rolling again, this is not going to work because it's five auto lengths too soon. Pearson took me around the track, stopping several times and directing me as to what I should be doing with my feet in the vehicle. "I'd run hard because he'd make me run hard".

Pearson and the Wood brothers parted ways after an embarrassing incident in the Rebel 500 at Darlington, S.C., in April 1979 when a misunderstanding between Pearson and the crew resulted in his coming out of a pit stop before lug nuts were replaced on his two left tires.

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Pearson didn't always get the credit he deserved amongst the newer generations of fans. His career paralleled Petty's and the two combined for 63 finishes in which the two finished first and second to each other. Huge rivals who had mutual respect.

"I am so sad to hear about the passing of my hero and the guy I consider the greatest stock auto driver of all time".

In 1993, Pearson was kind enough to help me transition to driving a stock vehicle at Darlington, which was a track like no other I had ever seen. "We both became better for it", he added.

"We stayed close, and I enjoyed visits to see David when going through SC". Pearson's family announced in 2014 he had a stroke.

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Petty released a statement on Pearson's passing Monday night.

Pearson's most successful track was in his home state.

"Darlington Raceway expresses its deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of David Pearson". David made an indelible mark on NASCAR history, and it is because of competitors like him that NASCAR is what it is today. "His Hall of Fame career will go down as one of the most prolific in the history of the sports".

His racing career started in 1953 on a dirt track at his hometown of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and decades after his NASCAR career was over, Pearson returned to the dirt to race at nearby Riverside Speedway. "He will be missed and will always be remembered".

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"David Pearson's 105 NASCAR premier series victories and his classic rivalry in the 1960s and '70s with Richard Petty helped set the stage for NASCAR's transformation into a mainstream sport with national appeal", said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France.

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