Local Celebrity Profiles
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Richard Petty | King of NASCAR
Richard Petty | King of NASCAR
Q: You're one of the top names in NASCAR, in fact, you're called "The King of NASCAR" for being a seven-time champion of NASCAR, but for those who really don't know anything about the sport, can you explain what NASCAR is?
Wow, that's a hard question, and one I don't usually get asked...I'll start with saying it's the second largest spectator sport in the United States. It stands for the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing. It started out as strictly stock car racing but now it's all-out racing. In 1949, the first "strictly stock" race was held in Charlotte. Over the years it has grown in so many ways and it's a sport that is enjoyed by a wide variety of people all over the world.
Q: How did you first get involved in car racing?
My father, Lee Petty, was involved in racing and he was one of the pioneers of NASCAR and one of its first big stars. When I was 11 years old, I remember other kids going home after school to help out in the tobacco fields or work on their parents' dairy farms, and I would go home to help my dad with the cars. I loved it! Maybe if he was a farmer I would have been a farmer, too? Most of my family is now involved in racing, so it's truly a family affair.
Q: What should one expect to see when they come to the Petty Museum in Randleman?
We have lots of cars here - some that won Daytona and some that won other races. It's a family museum of memorabilia of cars and things from my father, my son Kyle Petty, grandkids, and cars of mine. The museum is dedicated to preserving the Petty NASCAR legacy for my whole family - not just me. We have vintage cars, a kids "pit stop", and historical information about racing. It also holds a collection of vintage guns and belt buckles. We have a trophy room and even dolls that my wife, Lynda, collected displayed in her memory. The museum is located right next door to the home I was born in, and on the other side, we have Petty's Garage.
Q: What do you do at Petty's Garage?
Petty's Garage is a high-performance speed shop that we opened in 2008. We specialize in all high-performance upgrades for your cars. We say if you can dream it, we can build it! If you want it souped up, lowered, jacked up, or decked out, we can do it. We also offer painting, custom interiors, superchargers, custom projects, restorations...whatever you're looking for. It doesn't matter if it's for daily use, car shows, or custom collections. We welcome everyone's ideas and we love answering questions. Our goal is to have customers for life.
Q: What's your charity all about, can you explain?
Yes, thanks! It's called Victory Junction Camp. We started this camp in honor of my grandson, Adam Petty, who was tragically killed in an auto accident in 1999 when he was only 19 years old. It started when Adam and Kyle visited Camp Boggy Creek in Florida. Adam was so inspired by it and he wanted to start a similar camp in North Carolina. He was often found in pediatric hospitals visiting kids with challenging medical conditions and he wanted to make a difference himself. Because of his dream we started the camp in his honor.
Victory Junction Camp serves kids with disabilities, physical limitations, and chronic medical conditions whether they are on dialysis or chemotherapy. The camp allows them to have normal childhood experiences. It's not only about fun, although they do have tons of games, talent shows, zip lines, and theater, but it's to challenge them so they can discover how resilient they really are and they discover what they are capable of doing. The camp was started as part of Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camps. It takes tremendous amounts of money simply to keep it going, about $6 to 7 million dollars a year. At first, we thought we would only help kids in about a 250-mile radius from here so people could drive in. That's not how it's worked out though; we've flown kids and their families in from Nebraska, who could never afford to make it otherwise, and it keeps on growing. We've helped over 25,000 kids from all 50 states, and seven different countries now. We depend on donations and appreciate anyone who wants to help.
Q: Do you have other special things you'd like to talk about like events you hold at the museum?
We hold events throughout the year for kids of all ages, and host PettyFest on the first Saturday of Memorial Day weekend when the Coca Cola 600 is held. PettyFest celebrates our fans, especially our veterans, and gives us an opportunity bring in NASCAR people, as well as hold demonstrations. Each year at Christmas, we hold an event the kids love called, "Santa & The King," which is always a good time!
Rebecca Petty Moffitt: Dad also signs autographs and takes photos at all our events...that's really what he's known for and what draws people to him. He's always been accessible to his fans!
Q: What do you love about Randolph County?
There are so many things I love. I love the location because I can get to the mountains, the beach, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, South Carolina, and Virginia so easily. I love the mild weather here. It's very unusual to get a huge winter storm or even a hurricane because we're just perfectly situated. I feel safe here because I grew up here and I understand the people. I love it because it's home. I've been to many different places, but still I choose to live here. It's really my dream place to be, and that's why my wife named our house 'Reverie Place,' because she felt the same way about where we live.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be?
I can't control what others think of me. I got to where I am today with a whole lot of help from other people. I don't want to be put on a pedestal, that's not my thing. I did what I did out of survival and passion for what I do. I have a rule I go by that I call the 90/10 rule - 90% of what we do is reactive, and we do the best we can with the other 10%. I guess I'd say to people "do the best you can with what you've got." That's my motto.