Born: December 22, 1934
Home: Spartanburg, SC
2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee
The Wood Brothers Racing Team enjoyed great success on the race track during the 1960’s with legendary drivers including Curtis Turner, Joe Weatherly, Marvin Panch, Parnelli Jones, Tiny Lund, Speedy Thompson, Dan Gurney and Cale Yarborough. However, they would realize their greatest driver success at the beginning of the 1972 season when David Pearson was hired to be the full time driver of the famous #21 Ford/Mercury. The combination of Pearson’s driving skill and the horsepower supplied by the Wood Brothers resulted in one of the most successful pairings in motorsports history…and it all began in the beautifully detailed and authentic #21 1971 Mercury Cyclone.
During an eight year period from 1972-79, Pearson and the Wood Brothers dominated the superspeedways, entering 143 races and capturing an impressive 43 victories and 51 Pole positions, including a staggering 11 consecutive Poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “All around, Pearson was just the best!” says Eddie Wood, who grew up watching Pearson drive the Mercury race cars built by his father, Glen Wood and uncle, Leonard Wood. “He was a natural, for sure. He was always in control. He was a winner, and winners are like that. He had a poker face and a poker attitude. You never knew what he was thinking. He always kept something in reserve. He was just that good!”
Pearson was a master at saving his equipment until it counted. This ability to sneak up on the competition earned him the nickname “The Silver Fox.” According to chief mechanic Leonard Wood, “no one was better at timing the points on the track where he caught and overtook other cars than Pearson. “ In addition to his 105 career victories (second only to Richard Petty), Pearson finished in the runner-up position 89 times.
During his career with the Wood Brothers, Pearson’s biggest on track rival was “The King” Richard Petty. Pearson and Petty staged some of NASCAR’s most thrilling races, including the famous 1976 Daytona 500. Trailing Pearson on the final lap, Petty attempted to “slingshot” past Pearson and capture the win. However Petty’s car clipped the front of the #21 Mercury and both drivers hit the wall and spun to the infield grass. Able to keep his car running, Pearson limped across the finish line with smoke billowing from his Wood Brothers machine, capturing the Daytona 500 win.
“I’m not going to tell you that David Pearson was the best driver in NASCAR,” Richard Petty said when introducing Pearson during the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony in May 2011. “But I am going to tell you that he’s the best driver I ever raced against.”
Pearson’s response…”I can’t argue with that.”
Pearson was a master at saving his equipment until it counted. According to Leonard Wood, “no one was better at timing the points on the track where he caught and overtook other cars than Pearson. “He had a poker face and a poker attitude,” says Eddie Wood. “You never knew what he was thinking. He always kept something in reserve. He was just that good!”