Charlotte, NC January 16, 2007
Article by: Jeff Kluss/SIT Sports Director
Even when you know that the inevitable is going to occur you are still in shock when it finally happens. It is with deep regret that SIT informs you of the passing today of one of the great authorities and personalities ever to have graced the race track within the ranks of NASCAR. Benny Parsons was the class act that we wish could be cloned and made over and over again to be representative of what makes NASCAR racing great. He passed after a bout with lung cancer which was discovered in early 2006 and was thought to be in full remission. He was readmitted to the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte on December 26th and passed today in their ICU from complications stemming from his battle with the cancer.
It was my pleasure and privilege to have met BP for the first time at the NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) Hall of Fame inductions back in 2002 in Florence, South Carolina. I was (as Iron Man jokingly calls it) Jack Ingram’s date for the event and to be able to sit at the table with the likes of Richard and Linda Petty, Sam Aard and his daughter, Jack of course, and BP was nothing short of a childhood dream come true for me. I will never forget the laughter, the jokes, the stories, and just plain fun of this great occasion. But since I never participated in racing, I think that Linda Petty, Sam’s daughter and myself were the only ones that didn’t have a hearing problem at the table. The problem was that these great Hall of Famers were typically deaf in their right ears (since the exhaust came out against the wall of the track and they didn’t have ear protection back then to protect them against the noise bouncing back into the car) and when you sit at a round table….someone is going to miss out on the joke. I have never repeated jokes so many times in my life to folks sitting at the same table, but it was worth every second because these are great memories. BP of course was always the life of the party with a story to tell or something of amusement to pass on to those around him. The one thing that was most memorable about BP was that no matter who you were he always seemed interested in what you had to say. Not only did he share his words of wisdom and experience, he listened too.
Growing up in the era of all the greats such as David Pearson, Harry Gant, Richard Petty, Ned Jarrett, and so many others my dream was to be able to one day meet these folks. Well I did get to meet them and many other greats in this wonderful sport and once again I went back to my younger days and saw them through the eyes of a child that believed in heroes. Heroes do exist, I still believe in them, but it is sad that all heroes do pass and all we have left are memories.
BP was born on July 12, 1941 and won the NASCAR Winston Cup championship in 1973. He had 526 career NASCAR starts and left the car in 1988 and took up the microphone as a broadcaster. Benny Parsons will be missed but always remembered.
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