Parsons entered the hospital December 26 as a result of complications stemming from his battle with lung cancer.
Born July 12, 1941 in Wilkes County, NC, Parsons grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After graduating from high school, he moved to Detroit, Michigan where his father operated a taxicab company.
He began his racing career in the late 60s, capturing back-to-back ARCA championships in 1968 and 1969. He joined NASCAR's premier circuit in 1970. His first victory came in 1971 at South Boston Speedway.
Parsons captured the 1973 Cup championship in dramatic fashion. Crew members literally rebuilt his car, heavily damaged in an early race crash during the season finale at North Carolina Motor Speedway. He returned to the track and completed enough laps to edge Cale Yarborough for the title.
Parsons had 21 victories during his 18 year career, including the 1975 Daytona 500, and the 1980 Coca-Cola 600. He was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994, and was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998.
He became a popular NASCAR TV personality, first with ESPN, and most recently with NBC and TNT. Since 1994, he also hosted Performance Racing Network's "Fast Talk with Benny Parsons", heard on more than 250 radio stations nationwide.
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Darrell Waltrip: "Benny Parsons was the kindest, sweetest, most considerate person I have ever known. He was almost too nice to be a race car driver and I say that as a compliment. In my 30 odd years of racing Benny Parsons, I never knew of anyone being mad at Benny. Some of my fondest memories in racing were racing Benny. In the Coca Cola 600, we had a whale of a battle and it was one of the best races ever held at Charlotte. One of the funniest was in the 1981, Bud Shootout. I passed Benny on the apron at the start-finish line to win the race. Benny said 'you can't do that!' I said, 'I didn’t see any out-of-bounds markers!' You sure couldn’t do that today. Benny Parsons was a great champion, a great ambassador for our sport but more than that, he was a great person. He exemplified that good guys can be winners too. Stevie, the girls and I pray for Terri, Phil and the entire Parsons family to find the strength to get through this."
Michael Waltrip: "He was in victory lane the day I asked my wife to marry me. He sort of facilitated that, and helped me through it. I have a lot of wonderful memories of Benny because I appreciated who he was and how he handled himself. He will be missed. It's sad to be in Daytona. He won here and I'll think about him a lot this year. He was so sweet. He didn't want to argue with anybody. He just wanted to have a good time. He wanted to be there to help you if he could and wanted you to let him know what you needed out of him, that's what I remember most about him. Just a real caring, giving person and we had some great times over the years."
Greg Biffle: "Benny Parsons is not only the person I owe my NASCAR career to but he was a true friend to me from the day we met. I will always appreciate his friendship and what he did for me. Knowing he's not going to be there to come up and ask me how things are going when I walk into the garage at Daytona is probably the hardest thing to accept. Everytime I think about how lucky I am to have the job and the life I have, I think of BP because he's the reason I ever got this opportunity. I will miss him a lot, as we all will. BP and his family are in my thoughts and prayers."