PETTY: Building a Family Legacy
The role of family has been synonymous with NASCAR since its inception, and few pedigrees epitomize its significance as perfectly as the Petty family’s. This talented multigenerational crew has been involved in the sport since the inaugural NASCAR premier series season in 1949. Together, they achieved countless NASCAR “firsts” and set records—some of which are unbreakable. Perhaps more importantly, the Petty family has touched millions through charitable and civic work.
Featuring several artifacts that have never been seen by the public, this exhibit explores how, across four generations, the Petty family’s accomplishments on and off the track have left an indelible mark on the lives of many. Coinciding with Richard Petty’s 80th birthday in July, the exhibit also gives fans an interactive way to honor “The King” as he reaches this milestone.
This exhibit opens March 16, 2017. Please check the calendar for potential changes to exhibit hours.
NASCAR: THE PETTYS ON AND OFF THE TRACK
Across four generations and multiple branches of the family tree, the Pettys have collectively created some of the most memorable moments in NASCAR, set countless records, served as ambassadors for the sport, established enduring race teams, and developed state-of-the-art advancements in driver safety and car performance. Photos provided by Getty Images and Petty Family
Lee Petty: The Patriarch
When NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty borrowed a car to compete in NASCAR’s first Strictly Stock Division race, no one could have predicted that he would become a pioneer. But he did, and he went on to became the patriarch of the most dominant family in NASCAR. He set standards for success as a driver, earning 54 wins and three championships. As creator of Petty Engineering and an early representative of the sport, Lee defined what it was to be both a NASCAR owner and a driver.
Elizabeth Petty: The Matriarch
Lee Petty and Elizabeth Petty were married for more than 60 years. Behind the scenes, Elizabeth performed numerous vital tasks, including tracking expenses and making travel arrangements. In addition, she helped develop and fabricate groundbreaking advancements to enhance the safety and comfort of her family and their teammates, including the first window net, which she created to help keep her son Richard Petty safe.
Richard Petty: A Son Becomes “the King”
Lee Petty’s oldest son, NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, took the family name to new heights. Richard’s 200 wins and seven championships made him the most recognizable face in NASCAR. He also followed in his father’s footsteps to become a successful team owner, safety innovator and ambassador of the sport. His accomplishments continue to impact NASCAR participants both on and off the track today.
Lynda Petty: Supporting the Family and the Sport
Richard Petty’s wife, Lynda Petty, was doing important work at home and in the infield while he was shattering numerous NASCAR records on the track. Lynda’s accomplishments cannot be underestimated. She played a key role in the NASCAR Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary and also raised four children (Sharon Petty Farlow, Kyle Petty, Lisa Petty Luck and Rebecca Petty Moffit), each of whom went on to lead successful careers of their own.
Maurice Petty: A Master under the Hood
Lee Petty understood how to create speed, and he passed those skills on to his youngest son, NASCAR Hall of Famer Maurice Petty. One of the most brilliant engineering minds in NASCAR history, Maurice created engines that powered his brother, Richard Petty, to Victory Lane. Maurice’s engines were critical to the family’s success. He also served as crew chief on multiple occasions, including the 1970 Daytona 500, when he helped Pete Hamilton capture the checkered flag. As the leader of Maurice Petty & Associates, he continued to build engines for a variety of race teams and for his sons, Ritchie Petty and Mark Petty.
Dale Inman: Brilliant Tactician
Cousin to Richard Petty and Maurice Petty, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Inman was a brilliant tactician who set the standard for what it means to be a crew chief. He helped Richard win seven Winston (now Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series championships between 1964 and 1979. In 1984, he guided fellow NASCAR Hall of Famer Terry Labonte to a championship.
Kyle Petty: Son of “the King”
Nineteen-year-old Kyle Petty burst onto the Winston (now Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series scene in 1979, continuing the tradition of Petty excellence established by his father, Richard Petty, and grandfather, Lee Petty. After six seasons with Petty Enterprises, Kyle drove for the Wood Brothers from 1985 to 1988, picking up his first career victory in 1986 and a Coca-Cola 600 win the following year. He hung up his helmet for good in 2008 and began his television career. He currently calls and analyzes races in the NBC Sports broadcast booth.
Adam Petty: Fourth-generation Competitor
In 1998, Adam Petty, son of Kyle Petty, won both an American Speed Association (ASA) and an Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) race while he was still a teenager. Groomed by three generations of Petty experience, Adam brought enormous potential to NASCAR, finishing third in the NASCAR Busch Grand National (now XFINITY) Series battle for Rookie of the Year in 1999. Before his tragic passing in May 2000, Adam was in the midst of his second full season in the NASCAR Busch Grand National Series and was slated to compete in a limited Winston (now Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series schedule in 2000.
Timmy Petty: Under the Hood
Maurice Petty’s oldest son, Timmy Petty, began working with his father and uncle, Richard Petty, when he was still a teenager in the 1970s. He refined his mechanical skills by working on engines for Maurice Petty & Associates and prepared engines for his brothers, Mark Petty and Ritchie Petty. He has used the mechanical skills passed down by Maurice and has worked with some of NASCAR’s top teams, including Richard Childress Racing, where he serves as an engine builder and tuner.
Ritchie Petty: Driver and History Keeper
Maurice Petty’s middle son, Ritchie Petty, raced late model stock cars and appeared in a handful of Winston (now Monster Energy NASCAR) Cup Series races. He continues his motorsports involvement as a historian and keeper of much of the Lee Petty family archives.
Mark Petty: Keeping the Family on Track
Maurice Petty’s youngest son, Mark Petty, competed in a handful of NASCAR Craftsman (now Camping World) Truck Series events and later went on to become a chassis specialist in the motorsports industry.
Brian Moffitt: Keeping the Business Racing
Richard Petty’s son-in-law Brian Moffitt (husband to Richard’s youngest daughter, Rebecca Petty Moffitt) has served as chief executive officer of Richard Petty Motorsports since 2011. Before that, Brian served as senior vice president of sales and marketing for the company.
Photo courtesy of the Petty Museum
The Petty family’s excellence and influence extends far beyond the confines of a speedway. Through their political participation, charitable involvement and engagement with community youth, the Pettys have impacted the lives of millions. Multiple family members lead or participate in efforts supporting the Petty Family Foundation, Victory Junction and the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. Some have also run for and held public office.
Photo courtesy of the Petty Family Foundation
Petty Family Foundation
Following decades of charitable activities, Richard Petty and Lynda Petty established the Petty Family Foundation in 2008. Its mission is to provide charitable assistance to various organizations and individuals. The Petty Family Foundation has organized and promoted fundraising events such as the Richard Petty Charity Golf Classic and the Christmas Cruise-In Toy Drive. In addition, the Petty Family Foundation has provided funding to organizations such as the Paralyzed Veterans of America, Hospice of Randolph County, Pink Cares Piedmont, the Foundation Fighting Blindness and the Level Cross Fire Department in Level Cross, North Carolina. Richard and Lynda’s youngest daughter, Rebecca Petty Moffitt, serves as executive director of the Petty Family Foundation. Wife of Richard Petty Motorsports CEO Brian Moffitt, Rebecca has spearheaded numerous charity events and fundraising drives throughout the United States. Photo courtesy of Kevin Kane Photography
At a very early age, Adam Petty had a calling. He was interested in work that had little or nothing to do with driving a race car: He wanted to help people. Before his passing in 2000, he had a vision to build a facility that would provide fun and companionship for seriously ill children. Established in 2004 and located in Randleman, North Carolina, the Victory Junction camp is staffed by medical professionals 24 hours a day and provides numerous indoor and outdoor activities to children suffering from serious illnesses. Families never pay a fee to send a child to Victory Junction; all funding is provided by corporations, foundations and individuals. Adam’s father, Kyle Petty, serves as chairman of the board. His grandparents, Richard Petty and Lynda Petty, donated the land. Richard has said, “Victory Junction is the pinnacle of my career.”
Photo courtesy of Kevin Kane Photography
Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America
Now in its 23rd year of fundraising, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America has become both a tradition and an institution. Numerous celebrities, NASCAR participants and everyday volunteers have participated in the cross-country trek. The ride has raised $17.5 million for Victory Junction and other charities that support chronically ill children. In 2017, riders will travel more than 2,400 miles from Portland, Oregon, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in seven days. More than 24,870 campers and their families have attended Victory Junction since its inception in 2004.
HONORING THE PAST WHILE BUILDING THE FUTURE: LEVEL CROSS, NORTH CAROLINA
Photo by Getty Images
The Petty family continues to operate family businesses on the same piece of property where NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty began his racing career in the late 1940s. Fans can visit Level Cross, North Carolina, where the Petty family homesite, Petty Museum and Petty’s Garage are located. They can glimpse into the history and future of the Pettys—a family destined for success well into the 21st century.
Museum and Homesite
The massive Petty Museum, located in Level Cross, North Carolina, is roughly a 90-minute drive from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Uptown Charlotte. Fans can admire artifacts that speak to the Petty family’s incredible influence in NASCAR along with numerous pieces of personal memorabilia. The original Petty family homesite is located adjacent to the museum, and a portion of it is currently being transformed into another museum. After serving as an elementary school teacher for more than three decades, Sharon Petty Farlow, daughter of Richard Petty and Lynda Petty, became executive director of the Petty Museum. In addition to promoting the museum and ensuring its exhibits and artifacts are maintained, Sharon is involved in important work behind the scenes. She continues to process the family’s massive collection of photographs, periodicals, awards and other mementos.
Photo by Getty Images
Richard Petty’s high-performance speed shop was founded in 2008 as an expansion of his competitive career and ambition to find ways to continue to win on and off the track. Richard has been building hot rods ever since his childhood bicycle wouldn’t go fast enough. Today, Petty’s Garage designs high-performance custom vehicles and provides fine craftsmanship in restoration projects.