Man Of The People

If ever the saying "What you see is what you get" applied, it was to Benny Parsons.

The jovial, personable and folksy guy you saw on your television every week or heard on your radio was exactly the same person away from the microphone.

Benny won the Winston Cup championship, the Daytona 500 and many races in his career. But it was his personality and down-to-earth demeanor that everyone will remember.

"Benny Parsons was the kindest, sweetest, most considerate person I have ever known," said Darrell Waltrip. "He was almost too nice to be a race car driver and I say that as a compliment."

Those were the sentiments of most everyone who spoke about Parsons on Tuesday when news of his death swept through the Daytona International Speedway and around the NASCAR community.

BP was just plain nice, which in this cynical world we live is maybe the rarest four letter word in the dictionary.

"I never heard anything about Benny not being there to talk to anybody, whether it was their first race as a fan during dinner or as a fellow competitor going up to him for advice," said Ricky Rudd.

Indeed whenever I'd spot Parsons at a race, he was never alone, either talking to drivers, NASCAR officials, other media members or fans.

My last conversation with him was at Phoenix in November, when he was chatting with many of us in the media center. Still locked in his battle with lung cancer, BP was still smiling, telling stories and shaking hands.

That's how I'll remember him, a man that was larger than life but never too big to fit in.

This season won't be the same without him.


Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2007

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