Richard Petty The King. That just about says it all. Over the course of 32 years driving on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit.The King has seen this
sport grow from the dirt tracks of North Carolina to the brand new speedways like the Texas Motor Speedway.Richard Petty is the Real Thing. Hardly any
word or phrase can even begin to describe Richard Petty's grip on what creates an American legend. Fans call him, The King, and rightly so, because
that really just about says it all, along with his 200 career wins.
Petty was born in Level Cross, North Carolina on June 2, 1937. As is true of most legendaries
, The King began his life and career from humble beginnings. His father, Lee, raced cars, and Petty often traveled with his mother and his brother,
Maurice following his father's own career. As a young man Petty watched his father, Lee, win three Grand National (now Winston Cup)
championships.Before he was even of legal age to drive, Richard loved working on his father Lee's race cars and it was also something that he was
expected to do. At that time it was his dream to become the Chief Mechanic for his dad's race car team, as he himself had no desire to race. However,
after getting his driver's license it did not take long for Richard to change his dream; he wanted to put the pedal to the medal and he wanted to race
very badly! When first trying to bring the subject up to his father as to whether he could try his hand at racing, he was promptly told no and to wait
until he was 21 and then they would talk about it.
From the mid 1960s until the end of the 1970s, Petty was a major force in stock car
racing, setting many records and helping increase the sport's popularity. In 1966 he became the first driver to win a second Daytona 500, and in 1967
he won a record 27 races and a second NASCAR driving championship. In 1971, a year in which he took first place 21 times, he won both the Daytona 500
and the Dixie 500, reaching career earnings of more than $1 million and winning his third NASCAR driving title. He won the NASCAR championship again
in 1972, breaking his father's record of three titles. He won the Firecracker 400 for the first time in 1975 and repeated in 1977 before enduring a
long slump due to physical problems. The slump ended with a sixth victory in the Daytona 500 in 1979, a year in which he again won the NASCAR driving
championship. He won his last race in 1984. Petty and his family formed Petty Enterprises, a complete stock car racing operation.In the 1967 season,
Petty won ten consecutive races another of his records unlikely to be broken and added to his legend by coming in first in races where all the odds
were stacked against him. In a race in Nashville that season, he was leading when a tire blew out, causing him to smash against the fence. He managed
to drive his car to the pits, and his crew changed the tires and hammered on the sheet metal to straighten it. While Petty waited, he dropped from
first place to ten laps behind, but the crew got him back on the track. "It looked awful," Petty said of the car, "but it ran." No one gave him much
of a winning chance, but by the time the race was three fourths over, he was in fifth place, and with the leaders falling out one by one, "King
Richard" won the race by five laps.Petty also won his 55th race in 1967 and replaced his father, Lee Petty, as the NASCAR driver with the most
victories. Lee, a NASCAR pioneer and a three time winner of the Winston Cup, was the first back to back winner of that trophy in the 1958 and 1959
seasons. Lee and Richard Petty were the first of what has become a dynasty of champion stock car race drivers that, by the late 1990s, included
Richard's son, Kyle, and his grandson, Adam, both young drivers with promising futures.
During the 32 years of Petty's racing career on the NASCAR
Winston Cup circuit, he has seen the sport grow from the dirt tracks of North Carolina to the brand new speedways built now fit for a millionaire's
sky box at the latest dome. And from the real, drive them on the road stock cars, to the purpose built high performance models used today, Richard
Petty's impact on the sport of motor racing outstrips the glory of any one of his victory lanes.In fact, many would argue that The King has been, and
continues to be, the guiding force that has turned NASCAR racing into the most popular form of motor sports in America today.Though having retired
from racing, Richard is still very much involved in the sport. He is owner of Petty Enterprises, which includes the teams of the #42, #43 and #44
Winston Cup cars along with the #45 Busch Series car and #50 Craftsman Series truck. Though no longer an active driver, to this day there is a mutual
love and respect between Richard Petty and his fans. Often asked for his autograph, he gives it without hesitation (along with that famous Petty
smile). Richard Petty certainly long ago proved himself to be worthy of the title The King of NASCAR.
200 Career NASCAR Winston Cup victories.
Seven time NASCAR Winston Cup Champion. (1964, 67, 71,72,74,75,79)
Seven Daytona 500 victories. (1964, 66, 71, 73, 74, 79,81)
27 victories in one season. (1967)
Entered in 1,185 races in his NASCAR Winston Cup career.
Winston Cup Rookie of the Year 1959.
1971 Driver of the Year.
Became the sport's first million dollar driver after the Dixie 500 on August 1, 1971 in Atlanta, GA.
Inducted into the North Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 1973.
National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) Driver of the Year in 1974 and 1975.
Nine -time winner of the Most Popular Winston Cup Driver Award. (1962, 64, 68, 70, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78)
Competed in 513 consecutive NASCAR Winston Cup races. The 18-year streak lasted from 1971 - 1989.
Received Medal of Freedom, highest civilian award in 1992.
Claimed his first victory as a car owner in 1996 in the Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix with Bobby Hamilton.
AARWBA's 1995 Man of the Year for contributions on and off the track.
Recipient of the NMPA's Myers Brothers Award in 1964, 1967, 1971 and 1992 for significant contribution to the sport.
Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997.
[Edited on 18/7/04 by TRD]