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.