- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 16, 2007

12:53 p.m.

Benny Parsons, a former taxi driver turned NASCAR champion, died Tuesday from complications stemming from his short battle with lung cancer, his son Keith said. He was 65.

Parsons, the 1973 NASCAR champion, died in Charlotte, N.C., where he had been hospitalized since Dec. 26.

A member of NASCAR’s 50 greatest drivers, Parsons retired from racing in 1988 and moved into the broadcasting booth. He spent the past six years as a commentator on NBC and TNT and continued to call races from the booth during his treatment.

“Benny was a beloved and widely respected member of the NASCAR community, and of the NBC Sports family,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports.

“He was a great driver and a terrific broadcaster, but above anything else, he was a kind and generous human being. His character and spirit will define how he is remembered by all of us. Benny will be sorely missed.”

Parsons was diagnosed with cancer in his left lung in July after complaining of difficulty breathing. A former smoker who quit the habit in 1978, Parsons underwent intensive chemotherapy and radiation treatments and was declared “cancer-free” in October.

However, the aggressive treatment cost Parsons the use of his left lung, and he was hospitalized Dec. 26 when doctors found a blood clot in his right lung. He was transferred to intensive care shortly after his admission, and he remained there in an induced coma.

Parsons, affectionately known throughout NASCAR as “BP,” also continued to host a weekly radio program and kept fans updated on his condition in a blog on his Web site.

“As my radiation oncologist told me today, John Wayne lived and had a great career with one lung. There is no reason why I can’t do the same,” Parsons posted in a Dec. 18 entry after learning of the damage to his left lung.

“It will take a little while for the right lung to pull the weight for the left lung, so until then, I will still need to use oxygen when I walk. I won’t need it sitting or commentating [on] races, and to me, that is the main thing.

“If given a choice between cancer or losing a lung, I would say that I got the right end of the deal.”

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