Richard Lee Petty was born on July the second, 1937 in Level Cross, North Carolina, and is a well-known NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver. He won the NASCAR Championship seven times, has an overall record win of 200 races and he also won the Daytona 500 seven times. In 1967 he won a record of 27 races during the season, of which 10 were won consecutively, and nine Most Popular Driver awards. One can say that Petty is the greatest NASCAR driver to take part in these races. He also has a record for the most pole positions, 127 to be specific, and out of his 1185 starts he had over 700 top-ten finishes, which includes 513 consecutive starts during 1971 to 1989.
Richard Petty is a second-generation driver, his father, Lee Petty, being the first to win the Daytona 500 back in 1959 as well as a NASCAR champion. Richard married his wife Lynda Owens Petty in 1958 and together they had four children – Sharon Petty Farlow, Kyle Petty, Rebecca Petty Moffit and Lisa Petty Luck – as well as 12 grandchildren. Petty’s son, Kyle is also known as a talented NASCAR driver. The family still lives in Level Cross, NC where they operate Petty Racing as well as the Richard Petty Museum.
Richard Petty’s NASCAR career began when he was 21 years of age, on July 18, 1958. His first race took place at the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds in Toronto where he finished 17th in an Oldsmobile. Both 1966 and 1967 were outstanding years for Petty, not only because of all his wins but because he was the first driver to win the Daytona 500 twice in a row. Over the years his dominance soon earned him the nickname “King Richard”. Richard started racing the Plymouth and in the end made it famous in the 2006 Pixar film “Cars”.
In late 1991, after many successful years as a NASCAR driver, Petty announced that after the 1992 season he would retire. Unlike other drivers Richard Petty drove the entire 1992 season. He organised a year-long “Fan Appreciation Tour”, which took him around the country where he participated in different events and ceremonies to thank his loyal fans.
Lee Petty, father of the well-known race driver and NASCAR’s all-time race winner, Richard Petty, was born on March the 14th, 1914 near Randleman, North Carolina. Lee was one of the founders of NASCAR and was also one of NASCAR’s first American stock car superstars in the 1950s and 1960s. Stock car racing is found mainly in Great Britain and the United States and takes place on large oval rings and sometimes on road courses. A stock car differs from a race car in that its an automobile that has come off the production floor and has been used for racing rather then being custom-built for racing purposes only.
It was only at the age of thirty-five years that Petty began racing. His NASCAR career began at NASCAR’S official first race on June 19, 1949, at Charlotte Speedway, a three-quarter mile long dirt track. Lee Petty finished in the Top 5 in season points for all of NASCAR’s first eleven seasons. Lee, on three occasions, won the NASCAR Championships and the initial Daytona 500 in 1959. The Daytona 500 is 805 km NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race and requires the driver to complete 200-laps. This race was held every year at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida on Daytona Beach.
At the inaugural Daytona 500, Petty and Johnny Beauchamp fought every round near the final laps of the race. The finish was inconclusive because both drivers had finished so close to one another. Unofficially Johnny Beauchamp was declared the winner until further notice, it took a total of three days to make the final decision on who had won. With the assistance of the national newsreel a decision could be made and it was found that Petty was the official winner. From that day Lee Petty had cemented his place as one of the all time greats in stock-car racing.
Lee Petty founded Petty Enterprises, and along with both his sons Richard and Maurice, it became NASCAR’s most victorious racing team. He is the grandfather of Kyle Eugene Petty who is an American NASCAR driver and great grandfather of Adam Petty who started a promising career in racing but tragically died in 2000 at the age of 19 years.
Kyle Petty is a successful NASCAR driver, descending and descendent from a line of racers going back to his grandfather Lee Petty. Not only is NASCAR driver Kyle Petty known for his racing achievements but he is also a respected business executive and an outstanding example in the community.
Kyle Petty was born in Randleman of North Carolina, USA on 2 June 1960. His father Richard Petty and grandfather Lee Petty were already big names in the world of NASCAR. A fine sportsman from a young age, Petty was offered a number of scholarships because of his baseball, basketball and football skills. He was even told by an agent in Nashville that he had the potential to become a country music star. Despite this, racing was his chosen career.
In 1979 Kyle Petty began his career in NASCAR. His first race, the Daytona ARCA 200, saw him steering his stock car to victory. Petty also raced in 5 Cup races that same year, even making it into the top-10. The 3rd generation NASCAR driver began his full Cup racing schedule in 1981. That year he came in 12th with his points. Before the 1985 season Kyle Petty left Petty Enterprises to join the Wood Brothers. In 1986 Petty scored his first win at a race in Richmond of Virginia. He ranked 10th in 1986 and moved up to 7th in 1987. Petty raced for SABCO between 1990 and 1997. Two highlights in Petty’s career were when he came 5th in point standings for 1992 and 1993. He decided to take his team back to Level Cross in 1998. In that year he was named NASCAR USG Person of the Year. Petty continues to race under the banner of Petty Enterprises.
Beyond NASCAR driving, Kyle Petty is involved in a number of community and charity programs. To honor his charitable contributions he was given the title True Value “Man of the Year” in 1998 as well as the NASCAR Winston Cup Illustrated’s “Person of the Year” award in 1999. Petty established the Kyle Petty’s Charity Ride Across America in 1995. This ride is held in aid of a number of children’s charities. Other charities with which Petty is associated are the NEXTEL Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary, Boy Scouts of America and Make-A-Wish Foundation. Why not join in making a contribution to one of Kyle Petty’s charitable projects.
The most exciting race for car lovers is the Daytona 500. Starting with the first race in 1959, the excitement has never waned. With that first race the achievement of excellence was cemented for the entire racing community. This is the race that makes legends out of everyone who crosses the finish line first. The winner of the first 500 was Lee Petty, the patriarch of the famous racing family. The race was so close that it took three days after the raced had finished for a winner to be declared by photo. Lee Petty’s car edged Johnny Beauchamp by a mere two feet.
Daytona started on the sandy beaches of the area with drivers racing in an oval for little more than pride and bragging rights. When in the 1959 the cars moved from the beach to the now famous Daytona International Speedway, the “Great American Race” was created. Most of the sporting world’s major championships takes place at the end of the season, but the Daytona 500 is what makes NASCAR so much different than its sporting competitors. The big race is the first of the season and it’s richest.
Some say that NASCAR is now one of America’s top four sports and I would have to agree. On most Sunday afternoon’s thousands are in the grandstands among the roar of racing engines, while millions are glued to their televisions sets to cheer on their favorite car drivers. With Daytona being the biggest race of the year more 150,000 fill its arena while television ratings soar through the roof.
When that Sunday in February arrives, grab yourself a cold beer, don the cap of your favorite driver and watch the Great American Race create another legend.