JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Earl Pearson Jr. will make his debut in a new ride owned by Jason Papich during the Lucas Oil Late Model Knoxville Nationals this weekend at Knoxville Raceway.
Papich, a racer himself, maintains a race shop in Camdenton, Mo., where he will field cars for Pearson for the remaining 2021 season with aspirations to field a full-time ride for Pearson in 2022 with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. Papich runs his own car along with his teammate, Tony Toste, on the Lucas Oil MLRA and has one win this year and ranks third in the series point standings.
Owner and manager of his California based businesses Papich Construction and Sierra Pacific Materials, Papich and Pearson have become friends in the last several years, with Papich sponsoring Pearson and the Black Diamond Chassis house car.
“I can’t thank Jason enough for the opportunity to drive for his team. He and I have become great friends and we’re very excited about teaming up. Knoxville Raceway will be a great track for our debut as I love racing there,” said Pearson. “I have to thank Ronnie and Terri Stuckey and everyone at Black Diamond Chassis for the opportunity to drive their cars over the past four years. I consider Ronnie and Terri great friends and we will always be friends. We have some great memories and great wins together especially winning the Dirt Million at Mansfield Raceway in 2018 that paid over $200,000 to win. Great people and great friends always.”
With his new team and new ride a Longhorn Chassis powered by a Clements Chevy engine, Pearson will have a new number, which is his original number when he started racing as a young kid in go-karts, the No. 46. The No. 46 has a significant meaning to Pearson as it was his late father’s car number when he raced during his racing career. Earl Pearson Sr. passed away back on May 16 at the age of 81.
“My dad is the reason I got into racing at an early age, from go-karts to open wheel modifieds and finally super late models,” Pearson said. “Going back to the number 46 is a way to honor my dad after losing him this year. That number has been in our family for decades with dad racing that number, then me in my early late model years and now even Trey my son has raced with the number 46. It was Jason’s idea as well to go back to the number 46 and I’m very grateful for him insisting on that number and the opportunity to drive for him.”
At 49, Pearson’s resume includes five National touring championships, including four with the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series. He’s earned victories in major events like the World 100, the Hillbilly Hundred, the Jackson 100, the Colossal 100, the Dirt Track World Championship and the 2018 Dirt Million.