Driving and Winning For The King
by Daniel J. Simone, Ph.D. September 25, 2020
Recent donation by Lori Hamilton: Bobby Hamilton's Helmet and Firesuit, 1996
Accession Number(s): 2017.2.1 & 2017.2.2
Donor: Lori Hamilton
In addition to members of the Petty family, several top NASCAR drivers found success driving for Petty Enterprises. For instance, Jim Paschal won the 1962 Southeastern 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Marvin Panch captured the 1966 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Pete Hamilton was victorious at the 1970 Daytona 500, and NASCAR Hall of Famer Buddy Baker (2020) triumphed at the 1972 World 600. After Richard Petty hung up his driver’s helmet in 1992, he took on a larger role as an owner. Under The King’s leadership, Bobby Hamilton brought the Petty Enterprises No. 43 back to Victory Lane on October 27, 1996, in the Dura Lube 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. It was not only a popular win for the sport, it was also Hamilton’s first career victory in NASCAR’s top division. This is the fire suit and helmet Hamilton wore that afternoon.
Carrying on the Petty family’s tradition of success, Bobby Hamilton scored two victories driving for Petty Enterprises before moving on to collect two more premier series wins. Hamilton then went on to become a star in what is now the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. He earned ten wins in that division and won the championship in 2004. The popular Tennessee driver left us way too soon, passing away just a little over two years later in January 2007. These artifacts honor Hamilton, Petty Enterprises, and a memorable date in NASCAR history and will be placed on display in a future rendition of Heritage Speedway at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.