Who Is Richard Petty In NASCAR?
Richard Petty, frequently referred to as “The King,” is the most decorated NASCAR stock-car driver in the history of the sport. Although he no longer actively races, he is still a household name and remains one of the most well-known NASCAR legends today. Petty holds numerous records in racing, including the record for most race wins. Throughout his career, Petty won 200 races. Even more interesting, he won on 51 different race tracks located in 16 states.
Additionally, Petty has the record for the most Daytona 500 wins. The Daytona 500 is NASCAR’s most prestigious race, and Petty won the race a total of seven times. Not only did he win the Daytona 500 seven times, Petty is also one of three drivers who won the formerly named Winston Cup Championships seven times. Now the Winston Cup is referred to as the NASCAR Cup Series and is the most elite racing series for stock racing cars. Richard Petty excelled in both prestigious racing series, along with many other races, while he was a driver.
What Was Richard Petty’s Racing Career Like?
Petty’s professional NASCAR racing career began in 1958, and he raced for nearly 40 years. In his first year of racing, he placed in the top ten of nine different races and was named Rookie of the Year in 1960. In 1966, he returned to NASCAR after leaving stock-car racing in 1965 due to NASCAR’s ban on the Hemi engine. Petty’s blue and red number 43 Plymouth car was extremely iconic throughout his career.
Between the first and second decades of his career, Petty continued to accomplish many milestones. During his return to NASCAR, he performed the best out of any NASCAR driver in history. He had a record-breaking 27 race wins and won a Grand National Cup. Out of those 27 race wins, he won ten consecutively. In fact, Petty also holds the record for the most consecutive wins in one season.
Furthermore, Petty has the record for the most poles a driver earned. Petty earned 123 poles, which drivers earn by racing the fastest qualifying time on a track before a race begins.
Why Did Richard Petty Start Racing?
Petty was frequently exposed to the racing industry ever since he was a kid because his father, Lee Petty, was a NASCAR race driver. Lee Petty won the Grand National Cup three times and also funded the Petty Enterprises racing team. Lee Petty was also the inaugural winner of the Daytona 500 in 1958. Richard Petty helped his father on the racetrack by providing mechanical help.
The Petty Museum, located in North Carolina, honors the Petty family legacy and all of their contributions to NASCAR and stock car racing. In fact, during Petty’s racing career, his brothers and cousin worked on the mechanics of his racing car, including the engine. After he was in a racing accident that injured his arm, Richard Petty himself invented a safety net that wrapped around the windows of racecar openings to protect drivers.
What Does Richard Petty Do Now?
Petty retired after the 1992 racing season with a total of 1,184 race starts and 200 wins. Due to his incredible career, Petty was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1997 and the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010. His legendary racing career also earned him his very own character in the Pixar movie, Cars. He also received a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1992.
After he retired, Petty began working to build his family racing business, Petty Enterprises. In 2009, Petty Enterprises merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, and the company is now known as Richard Petty Motorsports. Richard Petty oversees the racing team and also manages Petty’s Garage, which is a shop tailored to performance vehicles.