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75 Facts About The Petty Racing Family

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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The Petty Racing family is celebrating their diamond anniversary in NASCAR this year, and despite being one of the most recognizable names in motorsports, there are still a lot of fascinating facts that many fans don’t know.

With Thad Moffitt getting in on the 75th-anniversary celebration of the Petty family in NASCAR, we here at the Daily Downforce thought it would be a great idea to shift through memory lane and take a gander at some of the family’s greatest moments in the sport.

You can become a part of one of those moments yourself by grabbing a limited edition 75th Anniversary diecast from the Daily Downforce shop. Act now and get your name on the actual race truck so you can say you’ve ridden around Darlington with the Petty Family.

Grab yours below:

Here are 75 Facts about the Petty Racing Family:

#1: Petty Engineering (Later Petty Enterprises) Was Founded in 1949

Petty Enterprises (formerly known as Petty Engineering) was founded in 1949 by the patriarch of the Petty racing family, Lee Arnold Petty, and his two sons, Richard and Maurice. The venture was created to serve as a racing team for the Petty name and branding. Initially, the team fielded 1 car–the No. 42 for Lee Petty himself.

The team today functions under the name Petty’s Garage, a vintage car restoration outfit.

#2: Richard Petty Was Not The First Driver To Drive The Number 43

The number 43 is synonymous with the Petty name. King Richard drove it for most of his career. But did you know that Richard Petty wasn’t the original driver of the number? Petty Engineering first expanded to a 2-car operation in 1954. The car ran twice in the ’54 season with driver Bob Welborn. Welborn made two starts for the team that year at West Palm Beach and Savannah Speedways. He finished 11th and 20th in those races.

The number then was put on a hiatus, not returning to the NASCAR ranks until 1957 with driver Bill Lutz. His highlight in the car would see him steer the number 43 to a 6th-place finish at the Daytona Beach course.

After Lutz’s stint, the number went on another hiatus until 1959 when Richard Petty took the wheel and never looked back.

#3: Lee Petty Won The First-Ever Daytona 500

In NASCAR’s early days, the races at Daytona were run on the literal beach. That was until the completion of the Daytona International Speedway which, obviously, still stands today. The first-ever Daytona 500 was held in 1959 and it was the patriarch of the royal family in NASCAR who won. Lee Petty won his first and only Daytona 500 in ’59 in what is widely considered to be one of the greatest and closest finishes in NASCAR history.

Thanks to NASCAR Classics, you can relive this race in the video linked below:

#4: Lee Petty’s Full-Time Driving Career Came To An End in 1961

Two years after accomplishing his greatest triumph, Lee Petty was involved in a horrific crash during the Daytona 500 qualifying race. The wreck involved fellow driver Johnny Beauchamp and both drivers would be hospitalized following the incident.

Lee Petty only made a handful of additional starts after the incident. He ended his racing career with 54 career wins and 3 Grand National Championships.

#5: Petty Won The 1959 Rookie of the Year By Only Making 10 Starts

Richard Petty took the wheel of the Petty Enterprises number 43 entry for 10 races during the 1959 season. Already making a name for himself, The King had 9 top-10s and 5 top-5s on the year. In a time of the sport when drivers would make anywhere from 60 to 70 starts on the year, it’s truly astonishing that King Richard was the 1959 Grand National (Cup) Rookie of the Year.

#6: Richard Petty Holds The Record of Most NASCAR Cup Wins

King Richard currently holds the record for the most NASCAR Cup Series wins in history at 200! This is certainly an argument in favor of King being dubbed the G. O. A. T. of NASCAR. His dominance early on in his career was matched by none except for maybe David Pearson. Pearson won 3 titles during Petty’s reign and currently sits just behind Richard Petty with the second-most amount of wins all-time at 105 victories.

This record will likely never be broken in the NASCAR modern era, effectively solidifying Richard Petty’s reputation as the undisputed King of NASCAR.

#7: King Richard Also Holds The Record For Most National Cup Championships

In addition to holding the all-time record for most wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, Richard Petty also holds the record for most Cup Series championships. Unlike his win statistic, though, he is not alone in this fact as there are two other 7-time champs on the list. The Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt is one of the drivers who has tied the King in Championships. When Big E came onto the racing scene in 1979 and won his first title in 1980, he was the clear successor to Petty’s dominance.

The other driver tied with Petty for most championships won is his current Legacy Motor Club business partner, Jimmie Johnson.

#8: Kyle Petty Began His Racing Career For Petty Enterprises 20 Years After His Dad

Kyle Petty, Richard Petty’s son, coincidentally began his NASCAR Cup Series career 20 years after his father’s debut and his grandfather’s inaugural Daytona 500 victory. A tribute to his grandfather, Kyle Petty drove the number 42 Dodge in 4 races in 1979 before switching over to Chevy for the season finale in Ontario, California. For his first starts, Kyle impressed, wheeling his number 42 to a 9th-place finish in his debut race at Talladega. He would also finish solidly in the top 15 at both Michigan and Ontario.

#9: Richard Petty Briefly Left His Family’s Team For Curb Racing

In the early 1980s, King Richard’s performance was starting to fall off. In 1980, he only won twice, an outlier compared to the dominance Petty was used to. In 1981, the team did a little better by winning 3 races. That said, he went winless for the first time in his career of full-time racing in 1982. In ’83, King Richard did return to victory lane 3 times with his Petty Enterprise No. 43. Still unsatisfied with his overall results, he decided to take his family number over to Curb Racing.

Richard drove for Curb Racing for the 1984 and 1985 seasons. In ’84, he would win a total of 2 races at Dover and Daytona respectively. His 1984 win at the summer Daytona race (the Firecracker 400) proved to be the final win of his career and it came with Curb Racing, not Petty Enterprise.

Following the ’85 season, King Richard returned his No. 43 to Petty Enterprises. He remained there for the rest of his career, save for 1 start but more on that later.

#10: Richard Petty’s Final Win Came With A President In Attendance

The 1984 Firecracker 400 has been well documented: it was Richard Petty’s 200th and final career win and it just so happened to come at the World Center of Racing. But perhaps more important than that to the public consciousness was that President Ronald Reagan was actually in attendance for the race. The 40th President of the United States gave the command to fire engines from aboard Air Force One and the broadcast actually showed the aircraft land at the airport just outside the track.

Reagan was then rushed to the track where he arrived just in time to watch King Richard cross the finish line first to win his record-setting 200th race. Reagan did a post-race interview with the King, making this one of the most iconic moments in NASCAR history.

#11: Richard Petty Made A Start in a Green Number 6 STP Sponsored Car

Following his two-year stint at Curb Racing, Richard Petty returned home to the company his father founded, Petty Enterprises. He never won another Cup Series Race but he was somewhat competitive in the immediate years that followed. That said, in 1986, Richard Petty crashed and totaled his number 43 during practice for that year’s World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He didn’t have a backup car which resulted in him “buying” a ride for the race from U. S. Racing. Fun side fact: U. S. Racing eventually became Jasper Motorsports in the 1990s and early-to-mid 2000s.

Petty finished 38th in the race and was back in the 43 for the remainder of his racing career.

#12: Richard Petty Was The First Driver To Have An Advertised Retirement Season

As Jeff Gordon was preparing to turn his first laps in the 1992 Cup Series finale at Atlanta, Richard Petty was turning his final laps in NASCAR. This was the penultimate race of an organized Richard Petty Retirement Tour. A bunch of merchandise was produced for the occasion and the tour was largely meant as a celebration of King Richard’s illustrious career.

Unlike a couple of drivers who would follow King Richard’s example and do their own version of a retirement season, Richard Petty did start all of the 29 scheduled races that season. His best finishes were at both Talladega races and at Michigan, where he finished 15th in all three events.

During his final race, Petty and his number 43 suffered some mechanical issues which saw him go behind the wall for repairs. But the No. 43 team worked hard to get their flagship driver back out so he could see the final checkered flag of his career. He finished the race in the 35th position, several laps down.

Our friend Brock Beard did a fantastic documentary on retirement seasons. Check it out below:

#13: Kyle Petty Was A Championship Contender in His Father’s Last Race

Kyle Petty’s career in NASCAR was admittedly an up-and-down one. That said, he tends to get a lot of hate that is unwarranted. No, he wasn’t as good as his father but he was never going to be. It’s hard to compete with the King of NASCAR in any statistical area. There were a few years in Kyle’s career where he was a pretty solid contender on any given week. Most of his competitive years came when he drove the No. 42 Mello Yello car for Felix Sabates.

The only time Kyle Petty was an actual championship contender was during his father’s retirement tour in 1992. The battle for the championship that year was an epic one, to say the least, and even though Kyle Petty was sitting 6th in points heading into the season finale at Atlanta, he was still mathematically eligible to walk away with the title. Needless to say, he didn’t and Alan Kulwicki hoisted the Cup by season’s end. But, Petty had nothing to hang his head about. It was still the best season of his career and he did win 2 races that year at Watkins Glen and Rockingham respectively.

#14: Kyle Petty Once Raced For Petty Enterprises Biggest Rival

One team stands out when thinking about the biggest rival to Petty Enterprises and the team still exists today: Wood Brothers Racing. Throughout Richard Petty’s competitive career, it was the Wood Brothers Racing No. 21 and David Pearson who acted as the biggest challenger in the King’s Game of Thrones. In 1985, Richard’s son, Kyle Petty, left Petty Enterprises to forge his own path. He signed with the Wood Brothers and, to match his Seven-Eleven sponsorship drove a number 7 Ford for his first two years with the team.

After the 1986 season, Kyle would sport the team’s iconic No. 21 with Citgo sponsorship. For the team, Kyle would win twice: in 1986 at Richmond and he also won the 1987 Coca-Cola 600. He left the team following the 1988 season for the greener pastures of Team SABCO Racing to drive his family-affiliated No. 42.

#15: Richard Petty Holds The Record For Most Daytona 500 Victories

In addition to holding the record for most wins in the NASCAR Cup Series as well as being in a three-way tie for most championship titles, Richard Petty has another impressive record: he is the record holder for most Daytona 500 wins. Richard Petty won the Daytona 500 a total of 7 times (1964, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1974, 1979, & 1981). That’s really an impressive statistic considering how even Dale Earnhardt who dominated the high banks of Daytona has only won the race once.

You can watch the entirety of the 1981 Daytona 500 thanks to NASCAR Classics in the video below:

#16: Richard Petty Has Only 1 Southern 500 Victory To His Name

Darlington Raceway is often seen as one of NASCAR’s original tracks by many modern fans. Though Martinsville is older, it is the host of the annual throwback weekend on Mother’s Day weekend and, of course, the crown jewel of the Southern 500. And though King Richard has numerous wins at this track (a track he always called “frustrating”) he only has 1 victory in the Southern 500.

The King’s lone win came in the Southern 500 came in 1966 in dominating fashion. He led over 340 of the 365 scheduled laps en route to victory.

#17: Maurice Petty Was The Chief Engine Builder For Petty Enterprises

Richard wasn’t the only son of Lee Petty who had a successful career in NASCAR. Richard’s brother, Maurice, was a pretty good driver in his own right. However, he never competed in a full season of NASCAR nor did he ever win a race as a driver. Maurice’s talents were better utilized in the engine department of Petty Enterprises. In the team’s heyday, Maurice was the chief engine builder for the team, contributing to many of his brother’s dominant performances and championships.

#18: The Number 43 Initially Retired Along With The King

The 1992 championship finale race where Richard Petty turned his final laps in competition was also supposed to be the end of the number 43 with Petty Enterprises. Heading into the 1993 season, Richard took the 43 with him and renumbered his team to the number 44. Rick Wilson was the driver of the STP-sponsored car, carrying a similar paint scheme made famous by his 7-time championship-winning owner.

The relationship between Wilson and Petty Enterprises was short-lived, however. By the 1994 season, Wilson was out of the ride in favor of Wally Dallenbach Jr. and John Andretti with whom the famous number 43 returned.

#19: Petty Blue Was A Happy Accident

The color known as Petty Blue in the racing world was actually created by accident. In the 1950s, Richard was gearing up for a race in his father’s race shop and his car needed to be painted. They had a can of blue paint as well as a can of white paint but neither was enough on its own to cover the whole car. So, Lee and Richard mixed the two paints which made Richard’s now iconic number 43 stand out from its competitors.

#20: Richard’s Famous STP Colors Were The Result of a Compromise

When Richard Petty first scored his long-term sponsor, STP, it was a big deal, not to mention a match made in heaven. To this day, it’s still one of the most recognizable liveries to race fans. But initially, STP wanted an all-red painted car. Richard who had never driven anything but his iconic Petty Blue colors was having none of that, though. He was determined to keep his iconic brand of blue on the car. The result was a compromise between the two parties where both Petty’s shade of blue and STP’s shade of burnt orange red were used to paint the famous number 43.

#21: Bobby Hamilton Won Petty Enterprises First Race in Over A Decade

As we talked about on this list, Richard Petty’s last win came at Daytona in 1984 in front of a Presidential audience. However, that win came in Curb Racing. Petty’s last win with his own team came a year prior in 1983 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Petty Enterprises, once the biggest and most successful team in NASCAR would not score another victory until 1996. And the driver was none other than Craftsman Truck Series legend, Bobby Hamilton.

Hamilton drove the famous Petty number 43 for Petty Enterprises from 1995 through 1997. He scored two victories with the team: one at Phoenix in 1996 and the last one at Rockingham in 1997. They were the first two wins of four in Hamilton’s Cup Series career.

#22: An Andretti Raced for Petty Enterprises for 6 Years

Following Bobby Hamilton’s stint with the team, Petty looked to another famous name in racing to fill the seat of the famous number 43. The driver who took the reigns was none other than John Andretti. The late nephew of the iconic Mario Andretti drove for Richard Petty’s team for a total of six years. His first stint with the team was a short-lived one as he ran a number of races to close out the 1994 season.

Andretti returned to the team in 1998 on a full-time basis, taking over the flagship number 43 car. He may have been the most well-known driver for the team in the post-Richard Petty years. He raced full-time with the team from ’98 until 2003 when team management decided that a change needed to be made. With Petty Enterprises, John Andretti scored his second and final NASCAR Cup Series win at Martinsville in 1999. This was also the final win in the team’s history.

#23: Kyle Petty Returned To Petty Enterprises With A Child-Favorite Paint Scheme

After leaving SABCO Racing, third-generation driver Kyle Petty made his triumphant return to Petty Enterprises in 1997. The team expanded into a two-car operation with Petty joining the ranks to drive the number 44. The paint scheme and sponsorship given to this entry was a fan-favorite amongst younger NASCAR fans as Petty sported a dark blue livery sponsored by Hot Wheels.

Subsequently, Kyle Petty finished up his full-time driver career with Petty Enterprises in 2008.

#24: Kyle Petty’s Final Career Win Came In His Grandfather’s Old Number

Unwittingly, Kyle Petty’s final career win came at Dover in 1995. At the time, the third-generation driver was driving the number 42 for Team Sabco Racing which just so happened to be his grandfather Lee’s number. The most successful time of Kyle’s career was with this team owned by Felix Sabates.

Kyle never won with his family’s team.

#25: Petty Enterprises Briefly Operated A Driver Development Program For Adam

By the turn of the new millennium, another Petty was gearing up to climb the NASCAR ranks. This fourth-generation driver was none other than Kyle’s son Adam. Adam Petty began his racing career in 1998 by making two starts in the ARCA Series driving the number 45 Pontiac for Petty Enterprises. In his first-ever ARCA start, Adam Petty won at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The performance was impressive enough for his father and grandfather to put him on the fast track through the NASCAR ranks.

In 1999, he made two starts driving the number 34 for the team in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Richmond and Texas respectively. At the former, he scored an impressive 10th-place finish. Additionally, he also ran the full NASCAR Busch Series season. His best finish in 1999 came at Fontana Speedway where he finished in the 4th position.

He was also scheduled to run the full 2000 NASCAR Busch Series season while also making a handful of starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. The idea was to have him go full-time driving the number 45 Chevy for the full 2001 Cup Series season. Unfortunately, tragedy struck during a Busch Series practice session in New Hampshire. In the incident, Adam Petty’s throttle stuck sending him hard into the outside wall. Petty passed away from injuries received in the crash. He was just 19-years-old.

#26: Adam Petty’s Devastating Death Spearheaded A Safety Revolution In NASCAR

The 2000 and 2001 seasons were bad years in NASCAR for driver fatalities. Adam’s death was 1 of 3 in 2000 alone along with Kenny Irwin Jr. and Tony Roper. In response, NASCAR started to move forward with safety renovations to keep such tragedies from happening again. Unfortunately, another driver in Richard’s fellow 7-time champion, Dale Earnhardt would also lose his life inside a racecar before the renovations were realized.

Safety renovations from these tragedies include the HANS device, SAFER barriers, the Car of Tomorrow (Gen 5), and the mandating of close-faced helmets, which were optional at the time. This revolution in safety has saved countless lives in the sport and fortunately, no driver has been lost in a major NASCAR event since.

#27: Kyle Petty Founded The Victory Junction Gang Camp To Honor Adam

Following the devastating loss of his son Adam, Kyle Petty founded the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a charity benefitting terminally ill children. The charity was actually the brain-child of Adam himself and the father-son duo were in talks with several parties to make it a reality when the tragedy struck. To honor his son, Kyle decided to keep Adam’s memory alive by seeing the Victory Junction Gang Camp come to fruition.

The camp welcomed its first campers in June of 2004 on Father’s Day weekend. Fittingly, the address for the camp is 45 Adam’s Way.

#28: Kyle Petty Switched Numbers To Honor His Son

With Adam Petty on the fast track to NASCAR stardom at the beginning of the 2000 season, the plan was set into motion for Petty Enterprises to expand to a 3-car team. They already had the likes of John Andretti in the 43 and Kyle in the 44. In the 2000 NASCAR Cup Series season, Adam was scheduled to drive a number 45 Chevy in select races. He made his Cup Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway and finished in the 40th position. Sadly it would be his only start in the highest rank of stockcar racing.

The plan was for the 45 to go full-time with Adam in 2001. The team did go full-time in ’01 but sadly not with Adam. It was Kyle Petty who found him strapping in the number 45 Sprint-sponsored Chevrolet for the infamous 2001 Daytona 500. His driving his son’s number was just another way to keep the memory of Adam alive.

Kyle Petty ended his career driving Adam’s number 45. He wrapped up his driving career at Phoenix in 2008, where he finished in the 39th position.

#29: Kyle Petty Leads A Charity Motorcycle Ride Across America

The Victory Junction Gang Camp isn’t the only way Kyle Petty gives back to the less fortunate. Since 1995, Kyle, a known motorcycle enthusiast, has led bikers across America coast-to-coast with his outfit Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. Through ride sponsors and celebrity donations, the incredibly popular charity ride has raised over 21 million dollars for Victory Junction and other children’s charities.

#30: Bobby Labonte Returned Legitimacy To Petty Enterprises

Considered a huge downgrade at the time, 2000 NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Bobby Labonte left Joe Gibbs Racing’s number 18 team to take over the helm of the iconic number 43 for Petty Enterprises in 2006. It was considered a head-scratcher, similar to how fans all reacted when Justin Haley announced he was leaving Kaulig for Rick Ware in 2024.

In the mid-2000s, Petty Enterprises was in a steep decline in performance. The number 43, 44, and 45 cars floundered around in the back of the pack more often than not. Prior to Labonte’s stint, Xfinity Series champion Jeff Green drove the 43 to abysmal results. The chance to score a former champion in their flagship number 43 was an opportunity the team just couldn’t pass up. They needed a change and needed one badly.

Bobby Labonte raced for Petty Enterprises from 2006 to 2008 and though the combo never won a race together, Labonte did noticeably elevate the team’s performance. Rather than struggling in the low high 20s and low 30s for results, more often than not Labonte was racing within the top 20 consistently, even scoring a handful of top-10s and top-5s for the team. His performance brought legitimacy back to Petty Enterprises. He remained with the team until its closure in 2008.

#31: Petty Enterprises Closed Its Doors Following the 2008 Season

The team started by Lee and his sons Richard and Maurie as Petty Engineering and Petty Enterprises actually ceased to exist following the 2008 NASCAR season. Their then-drivers Kyle Petty and Bobby Labonte retired and after many decades of floundering performances, the leadership within the team decided that Petty Enterprises had finally run its course. Kyle Petty would never race again though Bobby did piece together a handful of part-time efforts before returning to full-time racing in 2011 and 2012 with JTG Daughtery Racing.

The team’s closure marked the end of an era for one of NASCAR’s founding teams. At the time of the team’s closure, it had scored a grand total of 268 wins, 197 of them coming with team owner Richard Petty.

#32: Richard Petty Has 3 Wins For Teams Other Than Petty Enterprises

It has been well documented that, with a whopping 200 race wins, Richard Petty is the winningest driver in NASCAR history. It is also very unlikely for that record to ever be broken, further cementing Richard’s legacy as the undisputed King of NASCAR. But did you know that of King Richard’s 200 race wins, only 197 came with the team he founded with his father and brother? That means that 3 victories came with Richard racing for other teams.

We mentioned earlier on this list that Richard Petty won 2 races in 1984 with a team called Curb Racing. In fact, Richard’s last two career victories came with the team. But long before that, in 1970, Richard Petty won a race at Columbia Speedway in Columbia, South Carolina in a number 43 car owned by a team named Robertson Racing.

#33: The Petty Name Lived On After The Closure of Petty Enterprises

Following the closure of Petty Enterprises in 2008, Richard Petty sold off his naming rights to a struggling Gillette Evernham Motorsports, and became their official spokesperson. The team was renamed Richard Petty Motorsports, adopting the logo of the former Petty Enterprises. Richard Petty’s actual involvement with the team was minimal though on the outside, it looked like a merger. The fact of the matter is, though, the team was really just a continuation of Evernham Motorsports operating under the Petty name banner. No officials from Petty Enterprises (including Kyle Petty) were involved with the management of the new team

The team ran in the NASCAR Cup Series from 2009-2021 when it would, again, be sold off. Numbers run under the team include Evernham’s numbers 9 and 19, the Petty contributions 43 and 44, and, following a merger with Yates Racing, the number 98 for Paul Menard.

#34: The Number 43 Returned To Victory Lane After A 15-Year Drout

The performance of Richard Petty Motorsports did see an improvement in performance compared to its Petty Enterprises predecessor. The rebranded team more-or-less mirrored the performance Evernham Motorsports had in previous seasons–the number 9 was fast some weeks and the number 43 was essentially the new 19 car. But one thing the new outfit known as Richard Petty Motorsports was able to do that Petty Enterprises hadn’t been in 15 years was put the number 43 car back into victory lane.

In 2011 Aric Almirola was the driver of the No. 43 Ford for the team. A strategy call to get to the front during the summer Daytona race before the impending showers hit and washed out the day worked out. Aric Almirola won the 2011 Coke Zero 400 after the race was called for weather. This win was the first time the number 43 visited victory lane in 15 years since John Andretti’s Martinsville win.

#35: Marcos Ambrose Scored His Only 2 Wins With The Team

The mid-to-late 2000s was a wild time, man. We were in the height of the open-wheel invasion and often lumped in with that conversation is Australian racer, Marcos Ambrose (though, technically he didn’t come from open-wheel racing). During Marcos’ short stint in NASCAR, he won 2 races, both coming for Richard Petty Motorsports and both coming at Watkins Glen. When Ambros won in 2011, it was the first time since Richard Petty himself drove that a Petty-associated team visited victory lane twice in the same year.

#36: IndyCar Legend Sam Hornish Raced For Richard Petty Motorsports

John Andretti wasn’t the only IndyCar youngster to try his hand at racing full-time with a Petty-associated team. In 2015, Sam Hornish Jr. took over the 9 Stanley-sponsored car previously driven by Marcos Ambros. He was only with the team for one year and achieved mostly middling results. His two highlights with the team are a 6th place finish at Talladega and a 9th place finish at Watkins Glen.

#37: The Team’s Number 44 Returned in 2016

For the 2016 season, the number 9 team was rebranded to the number 44, further tying Richard Petty Motorsports back to the previous Petty Enterprises. The driver of the number 44 was Brian Scott, a former Richard Childress Racing development driver. Scott spent only 1 year with the number as the team was shut down following the 2016 season.

#38: Richard Petty Motorsports Gave Polarizing Driver Bubba Wallace His Big Break

Obviously, Bubba Wallace is a polarizing figure in the NASCAR garage. Some fans love him, some fans hate him. Regardless of which side of that spectrum you are on, you cannot deny his talent. In 2024, Bubba has become a regular top-5 and top-10 contender, has led some laps, and may snag a victory or two before the year is out. But Bubba first got his start in the NASCAR Cup Series with Richard Petty Motorsports. His first handful of starts came in 2017 as he filled in for an injured Aric Almirola. He drove the famous No. 43 in 4 races, achieving a high finish of 11th at Kentucky.

Obviously, RMP was impressed enough with his performance in the car as he eventually got the ride full-time in 2018 following Almirola’s departure to drive the No. 10 car for Stewart-Haas Racing. During his tenure at Richard Petty Motorsports, Bubba Wallace pretty much performed at the level the team was capable of at the time. He shined the brightest, however, at the superspeedway tracks, Daytona in particular. This includes a runner-up finish in the 2018 Daytona 500.

#39: Richard Petty Motorsports Had A Multi-Year Deal With Earnhardt-Childress Engines

Richard Petty-associated teams have a long history of switching up their manufacturer support depending on in which direction the wind is blowing. The two longest-tenured manufacturers for Petty Enterprises are Chrysler’s Dodge outfit and General Motors’ Pontiac. But the team did drive for a handful of other manufacturers including Plymouth, Oldsmobile, and Buick.

When the team shut down and rebranded Gillette-Evernham Motorsports to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2009, the team subsequently switched to Ford. By the 2018 season, however, another change in the manufacturer was made as a team associated with the Petty name returned to Chevrolet for the first time since 2000. With the switch to Chevy, the team formed an alliance with Earnhardt-Childress Engines, officially connecting the (at the time) two 7-time champions for the first time.

#40: Richard Petty Voiced The Character of Strip “The King” Weathers in Cars

One of many fans’ favorite movies to watch as a kid was the movie Cars. It’s (sort of) a NASCAR movie and is good, family-friendly entertainment for all to enjoy. And clearly, the movie still stands the test of time. But did you know that the King himself actually appears in the movie as a voice actor? Richard Petty plays Strip “The King” Weathers, an aging racecar known for being one of the most successful cars in the history of racing.

The animated car in the movie was designed after Petty’s 1972 Plymouth Superbird, a reaction to the Dodge Daytona which made its debut a couple of years prior.

#41: The Petty Influence Lived On in 2022 Through Petty GMS Racing

Some big changes came in the 2022 offseason for Richard Petty Motorsports. During the offseason, the truck series team owned by Maury Gallagher announced the intention of joining the NASCAR Cup Series as an upstart for the 2022 season. Initially, the plan was to run the number 96 Bass Pro Shops sponsored Chevy for Ty Dillon. However, with the team unable to secure a charter, they merged with the existing Richard Petty Motorsports to become Petty GMS Racing. The team kept the Petty namesake as well as their trademark Petty blue while Gallagher assumed principle control of the team.

Rather than driving the number 96, Ty Dillon’s team resurrected Lee Petty’s number 42 while keeping the number 43 consistent with Erik Jones.

#42: Another 7-Time Champion Joined Petty and Gallagher to form the Legacy Motor Club

When it was announced during the 2022/’23 offseason that Jimmie Johnson, after a stint in IndyCar, would be returning to NASCAR as an owner-driver, the fandom was reasonably shocked. Jimmie Johnson was often seen as a Hendrick Motorsports lifer, like his HMS predecessor and current VP of HMS, Jeff Gordon. But Jimmie always wanted to march to the beat of a different drum and carve his own path. After decidedly being done with IndyCar, Johnson started looking at ways to get back into the sport he retired from at the end of the 2020 season. Ownership seemed like the most logical step to him.

While it was reported that he had discussions with multiple teams which all offered different degrees of involvement from him, he thought that Petty GMS fit the best with him and what he wanted to do. Thus, 7-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Jimmie Johnson bought a minority stake in the team. The team subsequently rebranded to Legacy Motor Club, dropping the Petty name entirely from its byline for the first time since the founding of Petty Enterprises.

#43: Richard Petty Remains an Ambassador of Legacy Motor Club

Despite not having his hands in the day-to-day operations Richard Petty is still a valued member of the Legacy Motor Club. Today, Richard “The King” Petty serves as the team’s ambassador, or spokesperson. He can still be found to this day at various team outings, from autograph sessions to meet and greets to team promotions. With LMC, the Petty legacy lives on.

#44: With LMC’s Move To Toyota, Petty-Associated Teams Have Driven For 8 Different Manufacturers

In NASCAR’s modern era, from Petty Enterprises to Richard Petty Motorsports to Legacy Motor Club, a Petty-associated team has run NASCAR races under various manufacturers. It’s a rarity these days, as teams like HMS and RCR stick to one manufacturer for their whole stint in NASCAR, but the Petty Racing Family has always been somewhat of a chameleon when it came to what’s hot one particular year and what’s not.

Shockingly, about halfway through the 2023 season, the Petty-associated Legacy Motor Club announced their shift to Toyota. This marks the 8th unique manufacturer a Petty-associated team has teamed up with since the formation of Petty Enterprises back in the ’50s.

#45: Jimmie Johnson Still Drives Part-Time For LMC, Deepening His Petty Ties

Along with purchasing a minority stake in the revamped Legacy Motor Club, Jimmie Johnson is also an active driver for the team. The 7-time champion currently drives in the NASCAR Cup Series part-time in a non-charter No. 84 Toyota. In 2023, Johnson made 3 attempts in NASCAR’s top division. For the 2024 season, he is slated to make a total of 9 starts. While the number 84 is reversed from the number Jimmie made famous at HMS, 48, it still uses the classic Petty number font, deepening the ties between the two NASCAR greats.

#46: Lee and Richard Petty Were Both Inducted Into The NASCAR Hall Of Fame in 2010

Among the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame were the father-son duo of Lee and Richard Petty. Lee Petty ended his career in the 1960s with a total of 54 career wins and 3 national championships. Son Richard ended his career in 1992 with a staggering 200 victories, 7 NASCAR Cup Series titles, and as a 7-time Daytona 500 winner. The father-son duo is inarguably the most dominant father-son team in NASCAR history. It is only fitting that they were inducted into the Hall together.

#47: Maurice Petty Went into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014

4-years after the induction of his father and brother into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Maurice Petty was inducted in 2014. Maurice, while being a racer himself, really starred in the garage, where he worked on many of Petty Enterprises’ most dominant chassis. He was a valuable asset in the Petty Garage and a key player in the team’s dominance.

Maurice passed sadly passed away in 2020 at the age of 81.

#48: Thad Moffitt Continues The Petty Legacy in Racing

Driver Thad Moffitt was born in 2000 to Brian Moffitt and Rebecca Petty-Moffitt, the eldest daughter of King Richard Petty. Thad first got into racing at the age of 14 when he started competing in go-carts. This later led to him driving late models and, eventually, competing in the ARCA Racing Series.

Today, Thad drives for Faction 46, a team that made its debut in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Daytona in 2024. The fourth-generation driver drives the appropriately numbered 46 Chevy full-time. 2024 is his first full-time season in NASCAR. With his efforts, he is the logical continuation of the Petty legacy in NASCAR.

#49: Kyle Petty Continued His Involvement In NASCAR Through His Broadcast Career

After retiring from driving following the closure of Petty Enterprises, Kyle Petty continued to be an active voice in NASCAR through his broadcasting efforts. He started with ESPN’s return to broadcasting NASCAR races. He has also worked for TNT Sports and FOX Sports. Currently, Kyle Petty is contracted with NBC Sports for their NASCAR coverage and is the host of the digital series Coffee With Kyle.

#50: Like His Father, Kyle Petty Also Tried His Hand At Acting

As mentioned earlier on this list, Richard Petty made his voice acting debut in the movie Cars where he voiced a character named “The King” Strip Weather. For the third installment of the franchise, Kyle Petty got in on the fun which saw him voice the role of Cal Weathers, Strip’s nephew. In the film, Cal is depicted as a racecar sponsored by his uncle’s old sponsor, Dinoco, with a number 42 on the door in that familiar Petty font.

Kyle also appeared in the movie Stroker Ace where he played himself.

#51: Kyle Petty Has A Grandson Named Adam

Kyle Petty and his first wife, Pattie, had 3 children together, the first being the late Adam. Their second son, Austin Petty had a son in 2013. To pay tribute to his fallen brother, Austin named his son Adam. This is another way in which Adam Petty’s legacy and memory lives on.

#52: Kyle Petty’s Attempts At Being A Recording Artist

Kyle has 2 noted attempts at being a country music position. The most mainstream of these came in 1986 as Petty was driving full-time for the Wood Brothers. Petty signed with RCA Records and started putting together a solo album to be produced by Don Light. The only single released from the record was a song titled “The Other Guy”. To promote the single, Kyle made appearances on the popular television show Hee Haw to perform the song and even opened for acts such as Randy Travis and the Oak Ridge Boys. The album never came to fruition due to creative differences between Kyle and his record label. They mutually abandoned the project.

Kyle did release one other single as an artist. The song was titled “Oh King Richard” and was written by Rodney Crowell. The song is a tribute to his father’s career and recorded for a NASCAR-themed compilation album. There was a music video for the song recorded which saw Kyle playing an acoustic guitar in front of his father’s famed No. 43 racecar while Richard watched highlights of his greatest career moments.

#53: The Original Petty Enterprises Shop Now Operates As Petty’s Garage

Though Petty Enterprises closed its doors officially in 2008, the original shop in Randleman, North Carolina still stands and operates as Petty’s Garage. Petty’s Garage is a car restoration shop specializing specifically in classic cars. Their mission statement is to continue the same excellence and attention to detail that Lee, Richard, and Marice Petty as well as Dale Inman had with the original Petty Enterprises.

#54: Richard Petty Fielded Cars For A Few Indy 500s

As if his NASCAR dominance wasn’t enough, in 2009, Richard Petty in collaboration with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing entered a car in that year’s Indianapolis 500. The car was numbered 43 and had the familiar Petty Blue and Day-Glow Red colors of Petty’s STP scheme. The car was a Honda and was driven by Petty Enterprises veteran driver John Andretti.

They returned with the effort in both 2010 and 2011, respectively. With the latter two attempts, they teamed up with Andretti Autosport, a heavyweight in the series. Unfortunately, the team didn’t have the greatest results. They finished 19th, 30th, and 22nd in their three attempts.

#55: In 2023, Thad Moffitt Went Full-Time in the Trans Am Series

Prior to his full-time effort in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series in 2024 with Faction 46, fourth-generation Petty driver, Thad Moffitt ran the full 2023 Trans Am Series schedule. He drove the number 43 in honor of his grandfather and his legendary team for Team SLR with support from Petty’s Garage. Moffitt ended up finishing 7th in the overall class standings. He got his best finish at the Detroit Street Course coming in 2nd.

#56: Petty Enterprises Had The Most Team Wins In NASCAR History Until Very Recently

For 72 of its 75-year existence, Petty Enterprises, in one form or another, held the record for the most wins captured by a single team in NASCAR at 268. That was until 2021 when Kyle Larson’s win at the Coca-Cola 600 shattered the record. With that, Hendrick Motorsports became the winningest team in NASCAR and they continue adding to that win count today. But prior to them, no other team held a candle to Petty Enterprises. They were simply one of the greatest teams to ever grace the track in a NASCAR-sanctioned event.

#57: Richard Petty is still A Sought After Spokesperson For Many Companies

In addition to being the spokesperson/ambassador for Legacy Motor Club, Richard Petty is still a high-profile spokesperson in the business world today. To this very day, he still promotes brands such as Goody’s Headache Powders, Nicorette, Liberty Medical, and Cheerios. Petty’s name is still synonymous with the old guard of NASCAR and is who many fans picture when they think of the sport.

#58: Richard And Kyle Hosted An Automotive Lift Training Video

Still used in many vocational programs in high schools today, Richard and Kyle Petty lent their talents to hosting Lifting It Right, an instructional DVD showing students the proper methods of operating an automotive lift. The video is also used in various community colleges and technology institutes for people looking to go into mechanics as a career.

#59: The Richard Petty Driving Experience Once Called Disney World Its Home

Does anybody remember the old EA Sports NASCAR games? I’m talking specifically about ’07 and ’08. In the prelude to the career mode in those games, you (the player) are put in a Petty Blue Richard Petty Driving Experience racecar to “test your skills”. Well, the Richard Petty Driving Experience is still alive and well today. However, in its early days, it operated almost exclusively at Disney World Speedway.

That’s right, in Orlando, Florida, Disney World used to operate a racetrack. The track in question was a short flat oval that used to host Truck and IndyCar races. The program allowed the general public to test a real NASCAR racecar 365 days a year, so long as weather permitted. After the track’s closure, it was turned into a parking lot and the RPDE left for different venues.

#60: Lynda Petty Also Voiced A Character in the movie Cars

Richard Petty’s real-life wife, and the real-life mother to Kyle Petty, also appeared in the Cars film franchise. In the first movie, Lynda voiced the role of Lynda Weathers, Strip Weather’s wife. Lynda sadly passed away in 2014 from cancer in her backbone. She was 72 years old. She will never be forgotten as the pillar of Richard Petty’s prolific career.

#61: Richard Petty And Other Drivers Protested The First Race At Talladega

In the 1960s, NASCAR drivers (the talent, if you will) faced a lot of challenges. Some of these challenges were low pay and dangerous working conditions. To address these issues, the drivers banded together to form the Professional Drivers Association (PDA). The PDA was essentially a driver’s union meant to provide a voice to drivers who had minimal rights in the sport they promoted. Richard Petty was the president of the PDA at the time.

Big Bill France notoriously despised unions. One of the more notable protests done by the PDA was the 1969 boycott of the inaugural Talladega 500. The track was bigger and badder than Daytona. Drivers were driving at unprecedented speeds and the main concern of the PDA was a lack of safety regulations when it came to the facility. During practice sessions, there were multiple tire failures resulting in blowouts and hard hits in the wall. Feeling that NASCAR wasn’t taking their concerns seriously, the PDA opted to boycott the Talladega race.

Ultimately, the race went on as scheduled with less skilled drivers in the lower ranks of NASCAR. The PDA disbanded in the early 1970s after achieving some of its goals in the form of safety regulations. Though it didn’t last long, its impact was huge in the NASCAR sphere. Richard Petty and his fellow competitors’ bravery in standing up against NASCAR spearheaded many lasting safety regulations in the sport and their influence is still felt today.

#62: Richard’s Brother-In-Law Was Tragically Killed During A Pit Road Incident

In the beginning (and even today, through Petty’s Garage) Petty Enterprises was a family business with many of the Petty family being directly involved with the race team. While most race fans know of Richard’s, Lee’s, and, to a lesser extent, Maruice’s contributions to the team, there were other members of the family working for and with them. One member of the extended Petty family was Randy Owens, the 19-year-old brother of Richard’s wife, Lynda. Owens was working on Richard’s pit crew during the 1975 Winston 500 at Talladega. On lap 104, Richard Petty came into pit road with his car on fire. Owens reached for a water tank to extinguish the fire when it suddenly exploded due to the high pressure. He was struck in the head with debris and was killed instantly.

#63: Richard Petty Never Collected Earnings For The Bud Pole Award

In his career, Richard Petty earned 123 poles, the most of any driver in NASCAR history. However, due to the beer brand Budweiser sponsoring the pole award, Richard Petty never collected a cent of the prize money after winning a pole. This stems from a promise he made to his mother, Elizabeth Petty, that he would never accept money from an alcohol sponsorship.

#64: Richard Petty Holds the Record For Most NASCAR Starts

In his illustrious career, Richard Petty fired his engine a total of 1,185. That is the most starts by any one driver in NASCAR history. To put that into perspective, the driver with the second most starts to his name is Ricky Rudd who started a NASCAR race 906 times. In the top-5 of drivers with the most NASCAR starts is Richard’s son, Kyle, who is 5th on the list. Kyle Petty made 829 starts in the NASCAR Cup Series before calling it a career in 2008.

#65: Richard Petty Holds The All-Time Record For Most Wins In A Single Season

Richard Petty holds many records in NASCAR. One of those records is the most wins in a single season. In 1967, Petty went on an absolute tear. In that season alone, he scored the unobtainable win count of 27 races. During that season, the NASCAR Cup Series ran 49 races. This makes Richard’s winning percentage for that year an unheard-of 55.1%

In the modern era, the driver with the most wins is Jeff Gordon at 13. In 1998, the NASCAR Cup Series ran 33 races. That makes Gordon’s win percentage 39.39%, 16 percentage points off from the King.

#66: Richard Petty Also Holds The Record For Most Consecutive Wins

1967 was a monumental year for Richard Petty and his racing career. It was a season of legend: imagine playing a NASCAR video game on the easiest possible difficulty and having all the luck in the world fall your way. That was the kind of season 1967 was for the undisputed King of NASCAR. Not only did he visit victory lane a staggering 27 times that year, he also set the record for most wins consecutively at 10.

Tied for 2nd on that list is fellow 7-time champion and current business partner to the King, Jimmie Johnson, and his former teammate Jeff Gordon. They both have 4 consecutive wins.

#67: In 1965, Richard Petty Left NASCAR To Focus on Drag Racing

In 1965, NASCAR was beginning to make a lot of changes to its industry which included bringing NASCAR’s racecars up to a modern standard. These changes meant that the engine in Richard Petty’s Plymouth was too big to meet NASCAR’s regulations. In response, Petty left NASCAR for a year to focus on drag racing where the rules were more lax. He couldn’t stay away in the end, though. Petty returned to the sport in 1967 and went on to have the greatest season of any NASCAR driver in history.

#68: Lynda Petty Wanted Kyle To Be A Pharmacist

From a young age, friends and members of the Petty family asked Kyle if he was going to grow up and be a racer like his father and grandfather. Racing was in his blood and was all he knew and all he ever wanted to do. However, Kyle’s mom, Lynda, was never too keen on Kyle becoming a racer. By the time Kyle graduated high school, she was insistent that he take college courses. As revealed by Kyle on the Dale Jr. Download, Lynda dreamed of Kyle becoming a pharmacist. However, those plans would change when the community college Kyle was attending in Greensboro called and asked him not to come back. They even offered Lynda a full refund of his tuition. The problem wasn’t behavioral. The issue Kyle’s professors and fellow students had was that Kyle worked all day in the race shop and then would show up at his night classes caked in grease and grime from the garage.

In the end, Kyle couldn’t shake the racing bug. He made his first early starts at Petty Enterprises before scoring his big break at Wood Brothers Racing.

#69: The Family 21-Rule

When Richard was growing up and Lee was just getting his racing career off the ground, Richard knew early on that he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. But Lee had a rule that Richard had to wait until he was 21 before he could race. Later, Richard struck up the same deal with his aspiring racer son, Kyle.

#70: Richard Petty’s Controversial 1983 Charlotte Win

That Richard Petty has 200 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series is a widely accepted fact amongst race fans. However, there are those out there who dispute that he actually has 200 with some of them stating that 199 or 198 are more accurate numbers. The race they typically point to while making their argument against the King is the 1983 Miller High Life 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Petty was driving for Curb Racing at the time and, during this race, was looking like the Richard Petty of old. He had the better car and beat out legendary drivers Darrell Waltrip, Terry Labonte, and Benny Parsons quite handily. All seemed right with the world when Richard won. That was until post-race inspection when the issues with the car started to be found.

The first rule violation NASCAR officials found was that there were left-side tires installed on the right side of the car. This was a clear violation of the rules and was done deliberately to gain a performance advantage. In addition, the engine in Petty’s car measured 381 cubic inches. This far exceeded the 358 cubic inch limit. NASCAR deemed Petty’s car illegal. Yet, he was still awarded the win? Why?

Well, the reason NASCAR gave the win to Petty was that Junior Johnson, owner of Darrell Waltrip’s second-place finishing car, ordered his team to load up the infamous number 11 to keep NASCAR from looking at it. With the first-place car being illegal and the second-place car gone from the track, NASCAR decided to keep the current finishing order rather than create further controversy.

#71: Richard Petty Was Awarded The Medal of Freedom In 1992

Earlier on this list we mentioned that Richard Petty won his final race with President Ronald Reagan in attendance. That wasn’t the only time Petty rubbed elbows with an active U. S. President. In 1992, to celebrate a career spanning three decades, Richard Petty was a guest at the White House. It was there that President George H. W. Bush awarded King Richard with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

#72: Richard Petty Holds The Record For Most Wins From The Pole

Another record Richard Petty has that likely will never be broken is the record for most wins from the pole starting position. 61 times Richard Petty pulled into victory lane after starting the race first. Coming in second on the list is Richard’s rival David Pearson who won from the pole 37 times.

#73: Richard Petty Was Inducted Into The International Motorsports Hall Of Fame

In 1997, thirteen years before NASCAR would open its own Hall, Richard Petty was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. This hall is dedicated to celebrating the contributions of drivers, engineers, and crew members to motorsports around the world. Richard accepted this honor and stood with his father, an inductee in the inaugural class of 1990.

#74: Lee and Richard Petty Are Among NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers

In 2023, NASCAR celebrated 75-years of racing. To celebrate this, NASCAR decided to compile a list of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest Drivers. Lee Petty and his son Richard were among the drivers named. The drivers were honored publicly at Darlington Raceway on Mother’s Day weekend for their annual throwback race. Richard Petty was in attendance and is clearly one of if not the greatest drivers in NASCAR history.

You can grab your edition of the 75 Greatest Drivers magazine with a limited edition Richard Petty cover right here on the Daily Downforce Shop.

75 Greatest Drivers Magazine Cover Petty

#75: In 2024, The Petty Racing Family Is Celebrating 75 Years of Racing

A year after NASCAR celebrated its 75-year anniversary, the Petty Racing Family is gearing up to do the same. The Petty family’s career in racing began with Lee Petty in 1949 and was run alongside his two sons, Maurice and Richard. From there, the Pettys strove for excellence not only out on the race track but within the NASCAR industry. Lee Petty went on to win 3 Cup titles while his son Richard won 7 and Maurice was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The Petty influence continued with Kyle Petty who raced until 2008. Kyle’s son Adam also contributed to the family’s success.

Now, Richard’s grandson Thad Moffitt is looking to add his contribution to the Petty legacy as he drives the number 46 Chevy truck in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Faction 46.

To celebrate 75 years of excellence, Thad is driving a throwback of his own at Darlington. This truck throws it back to Bobby Hamilton’s 1996 STP 25th Anniversary scheme.


The Petty Racing Family is undoubtedly the most influential family of racers in NASCAR History. They’re measured not only by their success but their longevity and contributions to the sport both on and off the track. With that said, what are your favorite Petty Racing Family memories? Let us know!

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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