“We Were About to Break Up Anyway”: NASCAR Legend David Pearson’s Bitter Split With Team Because of Lies and Blame Games Ended an Incredible Partnership in 1979

The NASCAR world is gearing up to celebrate its 75th anniversary this year. Its journey from its inception to the present has been incredible, and it has seen its spectatorship and following rise exponentially. It has carved a name for itself as the organizer of some of the most elite sporting events in the motorsports world. NASCAR’s history is alive with amazing stories about legendary domination of the tracks, incredible maneuvers, intense rivalries, and famous partnerships and friendships, as well as tragic accidents and heartbreaks.

One such notable story is about an incident that happened in April 1979. Three-time Cup Series champion (1966, 68, 69) David Pearson made the headlines, not for a win but for his abrupt exit from Wood Brothers Racing. Pearson, driving no. 21 Mercury, pitted and due to a miscommunication lost two left-side wheels with only a few laps remaining in the race. His car DNF’ed owing to heavy damage. This incident took place during the Rebel 500 at the Darlington Raceway.

Pearson fired from Wood Brothers Racing

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A couple of days after the Rebel 500, another massive piece of news hit the newspapers. It came as a shocker to everyone when the headlines were read “Pearson Fired from Wood Brothers Ride.” Nicknamed “Silver Fox,” Pearson won 43 races in eight seasons with the Wood Brothers. Although they parted ways, both parties came to regret the decision later.

The Speedsport news website reported Pearson as saying in an interview with the Scene Vault podcast, “It wasn’t about the tires. We were about to break up anyway. We had gotten to where we argued about small things that didn’t matter what it was. That’s usually what happens … we (weren’t) winning.”

He also cleared some air about a few rumors doing rounds. He said, “I heard they were blaming me and I also heard that they said I (was blaming them) which they were getting information from the wrong man because I have never said anything about the Wood Brothers about them being bad or anything being their fault or anything like that. To me, they are the greatest people that I ever drove for. The whole family is just as nice as they could be.”

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It was a perfect comeback story when he returned to Darlington in September of that year as a replacement driver for the injured Dale Earnhardt in Rod Osterlund’s Chevrolet and won the Southern 500.

David Pearson’s glorious years at NASCAR

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David Pearson has 105 Cup Series wins to his name, and his career was considered second only to that of the king, Richard Petty. He was called Silver Fox by his fans and competitors because of his skills and calculated approach while racing.

The legend won multiple races at every major track, finding most success at the Darlington Raceway (10 wins) and Michigan International Speedway (9). He was equally adept at every type of trackincluding road courses (3 wins), superspeedways (48), and short tracks (54), while also winning 23 other dirt-track races.

Richard Petty, who has 200 wins to his name, had some wonderful things to say about Pearson. Talking to ESPN, he once said, “He could beat you on a short track, he could beat you on a superspeedway, he could beat you on a road course, he could beat you on a dirt track. It didn’t hurt as bad to lose to Pearson as it did to some of the others, because I knew how good he was.”

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Pearson’s 105th and final victory came in Hoss Ellington’s Chevrolet in April 1980 at the Darlington Raceway. He retired from NASCAR in 1986. The NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee has contributed a lot to the rich history of NASCAR, and his humble persona will always be remembered by the fans.

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