ROCKINGHAM — A year ago today, Jan. 20, 2017, the late Benny Parsons was forever remembered at the eighth annual NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Parsons, who succumbed to lung cancer 11 years ago, was honored alongside Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Mark Martin and Raymond Parks — the other four members of NASCAR’s 2017 Hall of Fame class. Hendrick, who has the most NASCAR national series owner championships in the history of the sport (14), took the time during his acceptance speech to call Parsons “a true champion.”
There was a special induction dinner held prior to the main event where Parsons’ two sons, Keith and Kevin, accepted their father’s Hall of Fame jacket. During the ceremony, Parsons’ wife, Terri, accepted her late husband’s Hall of Fame ring from 2014 inductee Dale Jarrett.
“For me, it was an equal mix of pride and sadness,” Keith Parsons said last year. “The pride was obvious, but the sadness because no one would’ve loved to have been inducted and been here more than he would have. He would’ve been beaming.
“I would’ve much rather sat back there where our family sat and had him on the front row,” he added.
Parsons and L.G. DeWitt, a stock-car owner from Ellerbe, made NASCAR history when they won the 1973 Winston Cup Series Championship at Rockingham Speedway — then known as North Carolina Motor Speedway — without a sponsor.
Since then, no unsponsored team has won a championship.
Parsons racked up 283 top-10 finishes and 21 wins in the Winston Cup Series — his last victory coming in 1984 at the Coca-Cola 500 in Atlanta, Georgia — during his career on the track. He would retire from racing following the 1988 season and spend the rest of his life as NASCAR reporter for various television networks.
“He didn’t know he was bigger than life,” Terri said last year. “To him, he was still the same guy that was born and raised in Wilkes County, that lived in Detroit and that drove the cab. And I think that’s why he connected so well with the people.”
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.