David Pearson, NASCAR Hall of Fame driver who was Richard Petty’s longtime rival, dies at 83

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NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson poses with the #21 Motorcraft Ford during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at the Roush-Fenway hanger of Concord Regional Airport, on January 27, 2011 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

David Pearson, the NASCAR Hall of Fame driver who was Richard Petty’s nemesis in the 1970s, has died. He was 83.

Pearson died Monday, according to WSPA, citing a source who knew him.

Pearson began his NASCAR career in 1960 and ended his first season by winning the 1960 NASCAR Rookie of the Year award.

He won three championships every year he ran the full schedule in NASCAR’s Grand National Series.

Petty released the following statement on Monday:

“I have always been asked who my toughest competitor in my career was. The answer has always been David Pearson. David and I raced together throughout our careers and battled each other for wins- most of the time finishing first or second to each other.

“It wasn’t a rivalry, but more mutual respect. David is a Hall of Fame driver who made me better. He pushed me just as much as I pushed him on the track. We both became better for it.

“We have always been close to the Pearson family because they were in the racing business, just like us. We stayed close, and I enjoyed visits to see David when going through South Carolina. We will miss those trips.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Pearson family and friends.”

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