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NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: David Pearson

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  NASCAR

NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: David Pearson

David Pearson
May 23, 2011


CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA

KERRY THARP: What a wonderful ceremony we just experienced. Now we get an opportunity for a few more minutes to hear from tonight's 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class.
Leading us off is David Pearson. David, talk about your thoughts right now. It's official. You've been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. How do you feel?
DAVID PEARSON: I'm doing great now. I'm not nearly as nervous as I was to start with.
KERRY THARP: Talk about your experience the last few weeks, culminating with tonight's induction.
DAVID PEARSON: Well, it's been nice, at the end especially, to get to wear the coat and stuff like that.
To start with, in fact, I've had a pretty rough time ever since Travis won the Daytona 500 in the car painted up like mine. Of course, that made me feel good.
I was surprised when they unveiled that car at the news media thing, when they had it down there at Jack Roush's. That was a surprise to me. I didn't know why they wanted me up there so bad. They made sure I was going to be there and all that. Now I see why.
I really enjoyed it. I believe after Daytona I did more interviews and stuff, more than Trevor did as far as that goes. But I enjoyed it, I really did. I've enjoyed this week. I am proud of it, but I'm glad that it's over with.
KERRY THARP: David, we appreciate that. We'll take questions now.

Q. Who would you like to see in the Hall of Fame?
DAVID PEARSON: Who would I like to see in it? Well, right now I feel like some of the older guys when it started really ought to be in it. Of course, it would tickle me to death to see Cotton Owens to go in there because he's 86 years old and he's got cancer, his wife has cancer. I feel like you need to get him and Ray Fox, as old as he is, they need to get those two guys in there at least before it's too late. I thought they ought to have Parks in there the first time. But now it's too late for him.
I just don't want them to wait too late because they would never know it. It would be a year before they go in, eight months, but at least they would know they was going in if they would go ahead and tell them some way or another that they was going in.

Q. How would you assess this class? There was some controversy that Darrell Waltrip wasn't in it, Cale wasn't in it. I sense you would prefer to have the older guys first?
DAVID PEARSON: My record was a whole lot better than theirs. That's the reason I got in before they did. That's about the only thing I know.

Q. Do you think this class was the right class to be named?
DAVID PEARSON: This class? The first class, as far as that goes, they deserve to be in there. I'm being honest. I think none of us ought to be in at this time, even the first ones. I felt like Raymond Parks, people like him. I know he had some cars that started the race back when it first started. I understand he paid the purse, helped pay the purse to get it going. People like that that really got it going I feel like ought to be in it first.

Q. Would you be in favor of increasing the number of nominees to bring in a greater number of veterans while they're still around? Also, do you want to see Leonard and Glen go in together as a pair as the Wood Brothers or do you think they need to be honored separately?
DAVID PEARSON: Well, like I said earlier, all of them deserve being in there. Of course, the Wood Brothers need to be in there. They deserve to be in there.
I keep going back to the ones that really started it. Like I told them last year, if I was going in, I would get out to put like Raymond Parks in there because he is the one that really started, from what I understand.

Q. Richard said he felt like you guys brought out the best in each other when you were competing on the track. Do you feel like he brought out the best in you as a driver?
DAVID PEARSON: Richard? Yeah, I really do. It was fun running with him. I knew what he was going to do every lap. Of course, he did me. But don't ask me who, but there is some of them out there that you didn't know what they was going to do the next lap. You can't really race somebody that way, or at least you don't feel safe racing with them that way.
Like Richard, I knew exactly where he was going to back off every lap. That way you could figure out where and when you could pass him, if you could. One of y'all was going to be better than another through a certain corner. Whatever corner it was that you the best in, that's where you got to pass at.
You got to be able to get through that corner faster than they do, come off the corner beside them, then you can get upside of them on the straightaway.

Q. David, now that at least your Cup racing career is over with, if you look back in hindsight, is there part of you that wishes you raced more than three seasons?
DAVID PEARSON: If I would have stayed with the Wood Brothers and they was running for the championship, I would like to run for the championship with them. They were good. They had good cars. No telling how many championships I could have won if I'd have been with somebody like that. Even Holman-Moody, we run good with them.

Q. Why did you pick Leonard?
DAVID PEARSON: I think Leonard knew what I wanted for the car. He knew what I thought about him, as far as that goes. If we ever went to a racetrack, when we left there, he knew exactly what we had. If I run good enough, when I go back to that next racetrack, I didn't worry about the car or anything else, I knew it would be close.
We might would have to change air pressure a little bit during the race or something, which we done that a lot. In fact, we measured the tires and stuff before anybody even thought about doing it, I believe, because I happened to be sitting on the tires one day. I looked down and seen pencil marks on it. They didn't even tell me what size it was or why it was done that way.
Woods has been secretive about what they do. They didn't let anybody knew exactly what they was doing. It was something. Like I say, I could be a little bit loose or something like that. They would change the car, air pressure, stuff like that. They could change things in the car while the tire was off, reach up and turn it a little bit. They was good people to work for.
They was real secretive. They wouldn't let nobody know what was going on. They accused me of being that way on the racetrack, which I did. I did different things. When you go out and practice, I wouldn't run like I would run during the race. I'd run different places on the racetrack, anything else to keep anybody else from knowing where I did run.

Q. Most of the teams now are based out of the Charlotte area. When you were driving, Spartanburg was the hotbed of racing.
DAVID PEARSON: It was at one time. I think at one time there was nine teams there, which was good back then. Of course, you could get anything done, machine work, anything like that, you could get it done in Spartanburg. It was really the place to be. It's more or less in the middle of everything, where we went. Like I say, at one time there was nine teams I think it was in Spartanburg.

Q. With so much history that NASCAR has, is five people enough every year? Should we increase the size to help catch up with the history of the sport?
DAVID PEARSON: I feel like to start with they should have put France in anyway right off the bat, then got five. I felt like that would have been better than the way they done it.

Q. I thought you might have Barney to introduce you tonight. Might he know too many stories on you?
DAVID PEARSON: No, I guess he figured he couldn't tell nothing on me, so he thought he better do somebody else.
But, no, Barney would have been a good one on me. He know me pretty well. He flew a lot with me, if I was going north or something like that. Sometimes I would stop by and pick him up on the way to the racetrack. Of course, if we was going west, he would drive down to Spartanburg and fly with me to the racetrack.

Q. When was the last race you ran, short-track wise? Did you run any dirt tracks after you retired from NASCAR?
DAVID PEARSON: Last time I actually raced? I guess it was last year on dirt. Three years ago I built a dirt car to raise money for the museum they was going to build in Spartanburg. In fact, I won every one I run in it. So the car has never been beat. I give the money to them to help build that.
It didn't work out right.
KERRY THARP: David, congratulations again on being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and continued best wishes.
DAVID PEARSON: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

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