Sunday, July 2, 2017

43 More Reasons to Dig Richard Petty

On Friday, June 30, Ryan McGee of ESPN noted 80 reasons to love Richard Petty. His 80 examples matched the King's 80th birthday to be celebrated on July 2nd.

I agree with all on McGee's list - and have had my own personal experiences with many of them. While I won't denote another 80 examples, I have outlined 43 additional reasons of my own.
  1. My first time meeting the King and getting his autograph - July 1982 at Nashville's fairgrounds speedway
  1. Learning through others that King has read many of my blog posts - primarily the series about his 200 wins
  2. Having him tell me as much on the floor of Petty's Garage! 
  3. Allowing himself to put cool on the shelf long enough to ham it up with Tim Richmond 
  1. Stopping his van as he exited the track following the 1990 Firecracker 400 in Daytona to sign an autograph for my friend's nine year-old son. The kid recognized the van ahead of him and broke out in a sprint in an attempt to chase down the King. The 30+ year-old kid still has that autograph. 
  2. Stopping after the fall 2013 Dover race to sign an autograph for the kid of another friend of  mine. Their family had flown from Australia to attend a few races and support Marcos Ambrose. 
  3. His 1980s Son of a Gun commercial - shoot da dash, shoot da tars
  1. Letting the competition know his coolness would not be compromised on the track. His battle with Bobby Allison in 1972 at North Wilkesboro was epic, and 43 prevailed to notch P1.
  2. Making bank by compromising a bit of cool to pose for an ad with Allison 
  1. Having enough coolness to meet with Allison, agree not to rough each other up any more, and to park their so-called feud while at its peak. 
  2. Calling out Dale Earnhardt after getting wrecked in the 1986 Southern 500 (13:30 mark)
  1. Telling Ned Jarrett that he planned to keep on winning after capturing his 7th Daytona 500 in 1981. (2:00:00 mark)
  1. Having my pic made by the STP Dodge for the first time in 1978 at Nashville 
  1. Having him spend a few minutes with me most recently at Phoenix in November 2013 and chatting about the old days
  1. Bailing on a scheduled interview with Jim Rome and explaining later that he had something else to do during the original date and time 
  2. Flying to Vietnam to visit US troops right after winning the 1971 Winston Cup title 
  3. Making it possible for others in his family to race: Kyle Petty, Ritchie Petty, Mark Petty, Adam Petty, Austin Petty, and Thad Moffitt 
  4. Making a D.K. Ulrich car look cool in 1986
  1. Mayonnaise sandwiches 
“I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old,” said Kyle recently. “Daddy would have been 26 or 27 and in his prime. He would go to work in the morning at the shop near the house, come home and have a mayonnaise sandwich with pepper.

“If you don’t know, daddy’s mayonnaise sandwich with pepper was two pieces of bread with mayonnaise. He put mass quantities of pepper on the bread, put the slices back together and ate it.

“Then, daddy drank a big old glass of milk. When he ran out of milk, he’d bang the glass on the table which meant (for mom to) fill it up again,” Kyle said. “Then dad would get up and lay in the floor face first. He just laid out - feet out - and laid there resting his eyes for about five hours.

“Everybody else would be over at the shop working. They’d come and wake daddy up and he’d go back to the shop for about an hour. Then he’d come home, eat supper and sit in a chair watching TV until about 12:20 or 1 o’clock.

“Daddy would get up about 7 and go back and do the same thing,” said Kyle. “Every day the man ate a mayonnaise sandwich, and I know the man’s won a million races and done all this great stuff for the fans. But just think of what he could’ve done if he had worked whole days all his life instead of half-days.” ~ Asheville Citizen-Times – June 14, 1992
  1. Being invited to the grand opening of the current Petty Museum - where I also got to trade stories about being a Petty fan with the aforementioned Ryan McGee
  1. Listening to King tell the story of driving the family race car as a teenager to the only GN race held in Corbin, Kentucky because his dad, Lee, was arriving from another track 
  2. Having my uncle and aunt name my cousin Richard based on their King fandom
  3. Having my bud name his son Richard Lee for the same reason - and then being at Dover in 2011 for his first Cup race
  1. Winning the only NASCAR Grand National / Cup race sponsored by Schaefer beer
  1. My getting to hold the Schaefer 300 winner's trophy 40+ years later
  1. Having King autograph our Schaefer Hall of Fame 20th Anniversary banner in Dover.
  1. Having an uncle care enough to mail me my first Petty postcard in the mid 1970s - and I still have it
  1. Exiting the 43 early in a Riverside race because of an injury and then coolly delivering TV commentary 
  1. Respecting everyone. King is equally cool with kids, fat dudes, fans of other drivers, hot chicks, grammaws, celebs, politicians, athletes, common folks, etc. 
  2. My bicycle that I converted from a yellow bike with a red banana seat to a Petty Blue, motocross bike.  
  1. An interview with David Letterman following his spectacular wreck in the 1988 Daytona 500 (26:20 mark)
  1. The Hat - The combo day-glo red (e.g. orange) and blue panel hat was a universal sign of being a Petty fan in the 70s and 80s. I had two of them - one of Richard and one of Kyle. Wish I still did. 
  1. Being more concerned about who took his boots than a destroyed race car after nearly wiping himself out at Darlington in 1970.
  1. The silhouette profile logo 
  1. Seeing the joy on his face when the 43 returned to victory lane at Phoenix in 1996 with Bobby Hamilton aboard. About 10 years later, my son and I were able to stand by the winning car at Hamilton's shop.
  1. Wearing snakeskin cowboy boots to meet President Ronald Reagan 
  1. The super cool, logo'd Petty Enterprises hauler unveiled in the early 1980s. It was among the first of its kind and established a new trend towards the modern, luxury transporters.
  1. Rejecting doctor's advice for additional rest after having overdue surgery for stomach ulcers. A few weeks after the surgery, he won his sixth Daytona 500.
  2. The way he pronounces Pontiac: Pony-ack
  3. His driving a bulldozer in February 1988 as part of the ceremonial ground breaking for the new 3/4 mile Richmond Raceway. One week earlier, he endured a spectacular crash in the Daytona 500.
  1. Having the local volunteer fire department number their station after the King's famous car number.
  1. His service to his community and the nation - including his participation in the Hayride 500, a 1986 drought relief program to transport hay from Ohio to North Carolina.
  1. All the friendships and relationships I've developed through being a Petty fan for 43 years.

TMC

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