NASCAR & Auto Racing

Highway named for Benny Parsons

North Carolina officials today named a section of a Wilkes County highway in memory of the late Benny Parsons.

During ceremonies at 11 a.m., state officials designated a 5-mile section of U.S. 421 in the western part of the county for Parsons, who died in January of cancer. Parsons, a Wilkes County native, was the 1973 NASCAR Grand National (now Nextel Cup) champion and drove in more than 500 races.

After his retirement, he became a successful racing broadcaster and also was credited for "discovering" several top young drivers.

The section of roadway being named for Parsons is between the Maple Springs community and the Watauga County line. A 5-mile stretch of U.S. 421 in eastern Wilkes County is named for Junior Johnson, another NASCAR great.

Wilkes County commissioners had asked state officials in August 2006 to name the highway for Parsons. They started taking that action before he announced in late July 2006 that he was being treated for cancer. The process of getting approval to rename the road could not be completed before Parsons' death.