David Pearson
David Pearson died on Monday night aged 83, he is a three-time NASCAR Cup champion. In this picture, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson poses with the #21 Motorcraft Ford during the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, held at the Roush-Fenway hanger of Concord Regional Airport, on Jan. 27, 2011, in Concord, North Carolina. Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

NASCAR legend David Pearson died Monday aged 83, the Wood Brothers Racing Team confirmed via their official Twitter account. He won three championships during his illustrious careers in the sport and is considered among the greatest ever alongside long-time rival and friend Richard Petty.

Person, who is fondly known as the "Silver Fox," drove the full schedule of the NASCAR Grand National Series, now known as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, on three occasions and he went on to win the championship all three times.

He was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in its second class in 2011 and Person’s 105 race victories is only second to Petty on the all-time list. The duo were the dominant force in the sport during the 60’s and 70’s and between 1963 and 1977 the two drivers finished first and second 63 times with Person edging out Petty with 33 wins.

"I have always been asked who my toughest competitor in my career was. The answer has always been David Pearson," Petty said Monday night in a statement. "David and I raced together throughout our careers and battled each other for wins — most of the time finishing first or second to each other.”

"It wasn't a rivalry, but more mutual respect. David is a Hall of Fame driver who made me better. He pushed me just as much as I pushed him on the track. We both became better for it,” he added. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Pearson family and friends.”

Pearson was an accomplished NASCAR racer and was successful in different venues of racing; he won three times on road courses, 48 times on superspeedways, 54 times on Short tracks and had 23 wins on dirt tracks. And despite their intense rivalry, Petty and the Spartanburg born, South Carolina native remained good friends after their days behind the wheel ended.

"We have always been close to the Pearson family because they were in the racing business, just like us," Petty said. "We stayed close, and I enjoyed visits to see David when going through South Carolina. We will miss those trips."

NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France paid tribute to Person after his death Monday and believes he along with Petty were instrumental in transforming NASCAR into a “mainstream sport with national appeal.” He believes the Wood Brothers Racing driver was the “gold standard” for the sport.

"When he retired, he had three championships — and millions of fans," France said. "Petty called him the greatest driver he ever raced against. We were lucky to be able to call him one of our champions. The man they called the 'Silver Fox' was the gold standard for NASCAR excellence."

Tributes have poured in from former and current NASCAR drivers as well as fans of the sport with many hailing the three-time —1966, 1968 and 1969 — NASCAR Cup champion as the greatest ever owing to him racing in only three full seasons.