Honoring Richard Petty: The Man of the Fans & King of NASCAR

By Fan4Racing

“The King” of NASCAR commands respect by just being himself

The Man of the Fans & “King” of NASCAR
Photo – LAT Photographic

Over the span of his storied career, NASCAR Fans having the honor of being in his presence all agree. The most humble and yet the most respected celebrity of NASCAR is Richard “The King” Petty. 

One of the many aspects that fans enjoy when experiencing this sport, is the interaction of drivers with fans. And today fans can thank Richard Petty for helping to create that culture within NASCAR. 

It’s been said, he never refused a fan when requesting an autograph or photo. He respects all fans, despite his legendary status and not likely to-be-matched 200 wins throughout his historic career. 

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Official NASCAR Members Club convention in Charlotte. There were a lot of legends in attendance that evening including Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Rex White, to name only a few of the many. All were gracious in spending time with fans and casually chatting throughout the evening, with everyone appreciating the magnitude of being in their presence. 

Yet, it was obvious when Richard Petty arrived dressed in his equally legendary style, everyone took note. Known as “The King” of NASCAR, implies royalty. And in some respects, the term applies, yet in other ways it seems a bit of a contradiction. 

One of many characteristics, most appreciate about Richard Petty is his high-level of respect for every fan he meets. He is charismatic, because he puts nothing between himself and fans despite, his entitlement to more. Fans recognize his genuine respect for them and in turn he receives the highest degree of respect back. And that my friends, is special and unique in the entire world of sports. 

In the words of the organization that bears his name, Richard Petty Motorsports 

The NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, Petty is one of the most celebrated athletes in all of sports and his trademark cowboy hat, sunglasses, belt buckle and cowboy boots have made him an American icon. His accomplishments over 75 years list like a “Who’s Who” of American athletes, including:

  • A record 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Wins
  • A record seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Championships – 1964, ’67, ’71, ’72, ’74, ’75, ’79
  • A record 27 wins in one season – 1967
  • A record 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins in a row – 1967
  • Led Petty Enterprises and Richard Petty Motorsports to a record 271 wins, most of any team
  • Member of four generations of Petty athletes – Lee, Richard, Kyle and Adam
  • Has met United States Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, George W Busch and Barack Obama
  • Awarded Medal of Freedom – 1992
  • Elected into three motorsports Hall of Fames including inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame class – 2010
  • Has appeared in or voiced movies such as “CARS,” “Swing Vote,” “Days of Thunder,” “Stoker Ace” and others
  • Has appeared in television shows including Arli$$, Hee Haw, David Frost Show and others
  • Donated his personal land, over 75 acres, to help build the Victory Junction Gang Camp
  • Has his name behind the original and most popular stock car driving school, the Richard Petty Driving Experience
  • Is honored by the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman, NC, a museum that houses Petty’s racing and personal memorabilia
  • A trustee Chairman of the North Carolina Motorsports Association
  • Current owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, Petty’s Garage, Board Member of Victory Junction Gang Camp, Board Member of Richard Petty Driving Experience, Co-Founder of the Petty Family Foundation
Among his legendary and historic accomplishments not listed above, are the charities and several organizations he helped create and support; one includes the Official NASCAR Members Club – ONMC. This fan, still pinches myself, knowing this “King” among many legends of NASCAR has taken some time to shake my hand and chat with me through an ONMC event. 

There’s a lot to learn from this NASCAR star’s perspective…

“I’m really thankful for everyone who has supported us over the years,” said Petty.  “I really don’t think about age too much. I just keep going to the next race. I’ve been doing that all my life and that’s what I’m going to keep doing. But, I am grateful for each day and all the fans who make this a lot of fun for us.”

Today and throughout the week, for his 75th birthday celebration, we have an opportunity to give back to “The King,” and I don’t think there is anything that would please him more. Take a few moments to donate – a little or a lot, is not the point – to one of the many charities Richard Petty’s hand has touched. There are several choices. Just choose one in celebration of “The Man” of the fans.

“The King” continues to be involved with his three-car race team and Petty’s Garage daily. At 75 he’s not showing any signs of slowing down, with a schedule just as busy as when he stopped driving a race car in 1992.

And just as he said, he’s “going to the next race.” His familiar cowboy style, sincere wave and genuine smile will be experienced by many more fans this weekend at Daytona for the Coke Zero 400.

One thought on “Honoring Richard Petty: The Man of the Fans & King of NASCAR

  1. My Hero for 35 years. In that 35 years I have noticed other friends of mine hero's go by the way side. Such as, they got caught gambling in professional baseball or they got caught gambling in professional basketball. Some turned to drugs and alcohol. Some were ugly to the media and lost their "shine" because they were not gracious. I'm proud and honored to say my hero. The person that I have a room in my house decorated after, the one I bought tickets to see, the hero that I drove all night many a time to see their craft is still gracious, still humble, still smiles, still has his dignity and for God and Country he is still and always will be MR THE KING!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s