Benny Parsons, a Wilkes County, N.C., native who called Detroit home, won the 1973 NASCAR premier series championship in one of the most dramatic fashions in series history.
- Inducted: 2017
An Everyman Champion
He won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times—a 54 percent ratio.
Parsons could be called an everyman champion: winning enough to be called one of the sport’s stars but nearly always finishing well when he wasn’t able to reach Victory Lane. One of Parsons’ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500. He was the first driver to qualify a stock car at more than 200 mph (200.176 mph) in 1982 at Talladega Superspeedway. He was named one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
Parsons also was known as a voice of the sport, making a seamless transition to television following his NASCAR career. He was a commentator for ESPN, NBC and TNT until his passing in 2007 at the age of 65.
On April 29, 1982, Benny Parsons completes a qualifying lap of 200.176 mph at Alabama International Motor Speedway (now Talladega Superspeedway) in a Pontiac powered by a Waddell Wilson-built engine. Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images.
Benny Parsons poses with owner L.G. DeWitt after the 1975 Daytona 500. After starting 32nd, Parsons works his way through the field and garners his biggest win. Photo by ISC Images & Archives via Getty Images.
Teammates and crew members from other teams work furiously to reassemble the No. 72 so Benny Parsons can re-enter the race. The car returns to the race in time for Parsons to secure a 28th-place finish, earning him enough points to win the 1973 NASCAR premier series championship. Photo by ISC Archives via Getty Images.