Oldsmobile had its place in racing, particularly NASCAR. In the mid to late 1950s, Lee Petty fielded cars for himself and often other drivers. The race car of choice during that time was an Oldsmobile Delta 88. Other Petty drivers included the likes of Bill Lutz, Tiny Lund...
|From Andy Towler at RacersReunion.com|
|Final photo taken of Bobby Myers courtesy of Randy Myers|
|Courtesy of Don Smyle / Smyle Media|
Midway through 1978, the Dodge was no longer competetive. The Pettys made a logical - yet unpopular to many - decision to switch to Chevrolet. The team ran a purchased Monte Carlo the rest of the season until they could begin to build their own.
In the off-season, the team expanded its General Motors fleet beyond just the workhorse Monte Carlo. As previously blogged, a Caprice was built to run several of the short tracks. And for the superspeedways, the Pettys returned to the name brand with which Richard started: Oldsmobile.
1979 Daytona 500 - This race is perhaps the most well-known race for the 43 442. With a solid Petty blue hood and no STP oval because of an on-going financial chess match between STP and the Pettys, the newly built 442 won its debut race.
|Credit: Woody Delbridge|
|Credit: David Allio / RacingPhotoArchives.com|
|Courtesy of Ray Lamm|
|Credit: Lee Greenawalt|
After the second Talladega race, the Olds was parked in favor of the Monte Carlo and Caprice. The two Chevy cars were used in the stretch run as Richard successfully battled Waltrip for the championship. With his seventh title in the books, the team went back to work readying for 1980. The team went with what worked before, and they again prepared the 442 to defend their title at Daytona.
1980 Daytona 500 - This one was my first Daytona race to see in person. I watched from atop a small motorhome in the infield and was mesmerized by the brilliantly-bright, day-glo red despite the great distance from me to the track. Though King won the 500 for the 6th time in 1979 and his 7th and final time in 1981, my first trip wasn't a good day for the King or the Olds. After starting 4th, the 442 broke a clutch and Petty finished a disappointing 25th.
|Credit: Robert Turner|
Yet, the King soldiered on. He belted into the Olds at Talladega long enough to start the race. A midday rain shower benefited the team. The race was started under a green-yellow flag (laps count, speed doesn't - a NASCAR rule I truly disdain). Richard completed one official lap and was therefore credited with the race's driver points. As he neared completion of the second lap, the 43 hit pit road. Previous Petty driver and crewman Joe Millikan qualified the car fifth and then jumped into the Olds to race the full event. Unfortunately for Millikan, however, Maurice Petty's engine soured as it did in the spring at Talladega. The 442 finished 18th after completing only 154 of the race's 188 laps.
A year or so after Petty Enterprises moved to a 110-inch wheelbase Buick Regal on the track...
...I began learning how to drive...
...in my parents' Oldsmobile...
...with a wheelbase far longer than 110 inches.
The car was a 1969 Oldsmobile Delta 88. The four-door sled had a 455 cubic inch engine. A true beast.
The Petty Olds? I miss it. My family's Delta 88? Ehh, not so much.