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.
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.
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. Soon enough, the brothers became men. Maurice went to work on engines, and in 1958 it was time for Richard to take to the track. Between winning his first race at the long gone Charlotte Speedway in 1960, and running his last race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1992, Richard Pettys record cannot be compared fairly.
Like other real life heroes before him, Richard Petty's only flaw is the incomprehensible superiority of his own achievements. Many agree that Petty has been, and continues to be, the guiding force turning NASCAR racing into the most popular form of motor sports in America today.
Richard Petty has won the Most Popular Driver award nine times. Wearing his trademark cowboy hat and shades, Petty signs autographs for his fans everywhere he goes. As a celebrity, Petty's main attraction is the vibrant, honest and heartfelt love for his fans. The fans feel his warmth and sincerity, and The King inspires an example of the greatest loyalty other figures in the spotlight can only dream about.
As a public figure Richard Petty makes it clear that the two most important things in his life are his family and his fans. Winning races doesn't hurt, but Petty let's people know where his values are, and his values of family and community are the right values that all of his fans can respect. Petty always gives his fans the credit for his long career, saying that without them coming to the track every week there would be nothing. You won't hear that in professional tennis.
Petty retired from competitive driving at the end of the 1992 season, but he has not stopped the hunt for victory. Petty Enterprises won two Winston Cup teams, and a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race truck. The journey continues and the goal remains the same.
Richard Petty's son Kyle followed his father into competitive racing, and now Kyle's son, Adam races cars. Starting with Richard Petty's father, Lee, the family now how has four generations of the Petty family ensuring the endurance their dynasty.
Below is a more comprehensive list of Richard Petty's incredible career.
*Atlanta Motorcraft 500 : 1975, 1977
*Atlanta Journal 500 : 1966, 1970, 1971, 1974
*Charlotte Coca-Cola 600 : 1975, 1977
*Darlington TranSouth 500 : 1966, 1967
*Darlington Southern 500 : 1967
*Daytona 500 : 1964, '66, ,'71, '73, '74, '79, '81
*Daytona Pepsi Fire. 400 : 1975, 1977, 1984
*Dover Budweiser 500 : 1971, 1974, 1975, 1979, 1984
*Michigan Miller 400 : 1974
*Michigan Champion 400 : 1975, 1979, 1981
*Pocono 500 : 1974, 1976
*Winston Western 500 : 1969, 1972
*Riverside Budweiser 400k : 1970, 1975, 1977
*Rockingham Carolina 500 : 1967, '70, '71, '74, '76, '77, '83
*Rockingham American 500 : 1968, 1971, 1976, 1979
*Talladega 500 : 1974
*Texas Alamo 500 : 1972, 1973
*Texas 500 : 1971
*Talladega Winston 500 : 1983
*Won 200 of 1,185 NASCAR Winston Cup races entered.
*Career winnings of $7,755,409.
*Won 7 WCS Championships: 1964, '67, '71, '72, '74, '75, '79.
*Won prize money in six figures 25 different times.
*Winston Cup Series Rookie of the Year, 1959
*The Petty Crew won 10 Winston Cup championships Lee Petty 1954, '58, '59, while Richard won seven (7).
*Petty became the sport's first million dollar driver after the Dixie 500 on August 1, 1971 in Atlanta, GA.
*Driver of the Year, 1971.
*Inducted into North Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame, 1973.
*Most Popular Winston Cup Series Driver, 1962, 1964, 1968, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978.
*National Motorsport* Chosen as recipient of the NMPA's Myers Brothers Award in 1964, 1967, 1971 and 1992 for his significant contribution to the sport.s Press Association's (NMPA) Driver of the Year 1974, 1975.
*Presented NASCAR's Award of Excellence, 1987.
*Named American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) most outstanding driver, 1992.
*Received Medal of Freedom, highest U.S. civilian award, 1992.
*AARWBA's Man of the Year for contributions on and off the track, 1995.
*200 Career Wins.
*Charter Inductee North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, 1997.
*Inducted International Motorsports Hall of Fame, 1997.
*Competed in 513 consecutive Winston Cup races. The 18 year streak lasted from the Capital City 500 in Richmond, VA on November 14, 1971 through the Motorcraft Quality Parts 500 in Atlanta, GA on March 19, 1989. STP sponsored 510 of the 513 starts.
*$7,755,409 won in a career.
*55 Superspeedway victories.
*41 500-mile victories, an all-time international racing record.
*$531,292 won in a single season, 1979.
*27 wins in a season - 1967 (48 races).
*13 wins in a short season - 1975 (30 races).
*10 wins in a row - 1967.
*1,185 races entered.
*158 second place finishes, 550 top 5 finishes, 693 top 10 finishes.
*Seven Daytona 500 victories - (1964, '66, '71, '73, '74, '79, '81).
*Seven Carolina 500 victories - (1967, '70, '71, '74, '76, '77, '83).
*Nine-time winner/Most Popular Driver Award (1962, '64, '68, '70, '74, '75, '76, '77, '78) .
*Petty leads David Pearson 200 to 105 in Winston Cup victories and superspeedway wins, 55-51.
*Petty's 1981 Daytona 500 victory earned him his largest purse ($90,575).