Benny Parsons

Benny Parsons

Benny Parsons (Credit ISC Archives/Getty Images)

(b. 6/12/41 – d. 1/16/07)
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
Competed: 1964-88
Starts: 526
Wins: 21
Poles: 20

Benny Parsons, a Wilkes County, N.C.-native who called Detroit home after driving a taxi for a living during his years in the northern city, won the 1973 NASCAR premier series championship in one of the most dramatic fashions in series history.

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. He won 21 times in 526 career starts but finished among the top 10 283 times – a 54 percent ratio.

One of Parsons’ biggest victories came in the 1975 Daytona 500. He also was the first driver to qualify a stock car at more than 200 mph (200.176) 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 NBC and TNT until his passing on Jan. 16, 2007, at the age of 65.