(TOLEDO, Ohio - January 20, 2013) - Two-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion Benny Parsons accomplished a lot over his racing career, including championships in both ARCA and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. However, it was his first victory at Daytona that may have moved his career along the most.
After winning the 1969 Daytona ARCA 300, the same year he won his second consecutive ARCA driving title, his career took off like a rocket. Soon after, he found himself with a top ride in NASCAR, and established himself as an immediate contender, earning the Sprint Cup Series title in 1973. He answered that with one of stock car racing's ultimate prizes - a victory in the Daytona 500 in 1975.
Parsons, who worked as a taxi-cab driver in the Detroit area in the early 1960s, started his stock car career at Mt. Clemens (Mich.) Speedway in 1963 before earning the ARCA Rookie of the Year honors in 1965, finishing seventh in points that season.
In all, Parsons won 16 ARCA national events at a wide range of tracks on pavement and dirt during the 1968 and 1969 seasons, including the 300-miler at Daytona on February 16, the same date of this year's 50th Anniversary ARCA race at the ‘World Center of Racing'.
His career-first ARCA win came on March 22, 1968 at Pan-American Speedway in San Antonio, Texas, and his final ARCA win came at ARCA's hometown track Toledo Speedway on August 2, 1969. Parsons also earned two other wins at Toledo in 1968 on May 5 and July 20.
As a testament to his driving talent, he had the most success at one of the circuit's most difficult tracks - on the high-banks of Dayton Speedway where he earned four wins, including a grueling 500-lapper on September 8, 1968. Parsons won his first race at Dayton on June 30, 1968, and two more in 1969 on May 4 and June 29.
Parsons could also get the job done on dirt, winning at the renowned Eldora Speedway on August 11, 1968 (right), the Clark County Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ohio on August 17, 1968 and at Williams Grove Speedway on June 1, 1969.
Other ARCA national victories for Parsons included two at Salem Speedway on April 28, 1968 and September 15, 1968, Heidelberg Speedway on May 10, 1968 and Lorain County Speedway on July 4, 1968.
Parsons accomplishments also include three consecutive ARCA pole awards at Daytona in '68, '69 and '70, the same year he moved into the Sprint Cup Series, where his success followed with 21 career wins and 20 pole awards before retiring following the 1988 season.
After retiring as an active driver following the 1988 season, Parsons joined ESPN as a race analyst, winning an Ace Award in 1989 and an Emmy in 1996. He moved over to NBC and TNT when those networks began NASCAR coverage in 2001.
Parsons was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994, becoming the first-ever ARCA national champion inducted into the Hall of fame. He was also named one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers in 1998.
When he was the Guest of Honor at the ARCA 50th Anniversary Awards Banquet in 2003, he asked if he could have a table for some VIPs-and invited his ARCA pit crew from the 1960s to sit with him. From his days racing figure-8s locally in Detroit, his demeanor never changed-enthusiastic, positive and friendly. A championship race car driver, Daytona 500 winner, internationally known TV broadcaster, he was all of those things, but always a nice guy.
This year's Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real will mark the 50th Anniversary race for the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona. As part of the celebration, past Daytona ARCA winners will be recognized/honored in pre-race ceremonies before the race goes live on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. Eastern. NASCAR's Sprint Unlimited follows ARCA's 50th Anniversary race.