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 Petty's 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.