David Pearson’s 1968 Ford
by Tom Jensen March 29, 2021
Now on display on Glory Road, David Pearson’s championship-winning 1968 Ford Torino has deep ties to Hall of Famers.
Drivers will be the first people to tell you they don’t become NASCAR champions by themselves. Earning a championship in any NASCAR series requires a top-notch team of dedicated professionals around you, as well as first-rate equipment.
And where there is a championship driver, chances are there are equally talented individuals elsewhere on the team.
Take NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson (2011), for example.
Pearson, a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, ranks second all-time on NASCAR’s win list with 105 race victories. He also is one of only five drivers with three premier series championships, joining fellow Hall of Famers Lee Petty (2011), Cale Yarborough (2012), Darrell Waltrip (2012) and Tony Stewart (2020).
When Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2021) agreed to serve as the Hall of Fame’s guest curator for our “Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions” exhibit, one of the 18 championship-winning cars he selected was the car Pearson won his second of three championships in, a potent 1968 Ford Torino fielded by the legendary Charlotte-based Holman-Moody Racing team.
With the weight of Ford Motor Co. behind them, Holman-Moody was one of the dominant NASCAR teams of the 1960s. And the 1968 season was the best of Pearson’s career, as he won 16 races in 48 starts, a phenomenal winning percentage of 33.33 percent.
During the ’68 campaign, Pearson led the premier series in top fives with 36 and top 10s with 38, tying Richard Petty (2010) in race wins at 16 and poles with 12. It truly was a career year for Pearson, but he did not do it alone.
The engines in Pearson’s No. 17 Ford Torino were built by fellow Hall of Famer Waddell Wilson (2020). During Wilson’s illustrious career, he built the engines that won 132 premier series races, including seven Daytona 500s, as well as three championships, two with Pearson in 1968-69 and a third with Benny Parsons (2016) in 1973.
The 1968 season was the best of Pearson’s career, as he won 16 races in 48 starts.
— Tom Jensen
Rest assured Pearson’s Torino had plenty of what engine builders like to refer to as “steam under the hood,” racing slang for abundant power.
And there’s yet another Hall of Fame connection to Pearson’s immaculate 1968 Holman-Moody Ford: It was beautifully restored by Ray Evernham (2018).
In addition to helping Jeff Gordon (2019) win three of his four premier series championships and leading Dodge back into the NASCAR premier series in 2001, Evernham is one of the best in the world at bringing back vintage race cars to life, as this incredible restoration shows.
Without question, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a great choice in picking this car for Glory Road, as it has everything desirable about it:
A championship history.
A Hall of Fame driver.
A Hall of Fame engine builder.
A restoration by a Hall of Fame crew chief.
Selected for Glory Road by a guest curator who’s a Hall of Fame driver himself.
It does not get better than that, folks.
Which is why David Pearson’s 1968 Ford Torino is on Glory Road at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The NASCAR Hall of Fame is open Wednesday through Monday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. To purchase tickets, go to nascarhall.com/tickets.