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Moonshine & Motorsports Trail: Petty Museum and the NC Sports Hall of Fame (Ep. 3)

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Eric Estepp continues his trek along the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail. He starts off with a trip to the North Carolina State Capital in Raleigh to look at the North Carolina Museum of History and the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. After that, he makes his way to Level Cross for a VIP tour of the Petty Museum.

North Carolina Museum of History

Of course, there has to be some motorsports history the first time Eric walks into the museum. A Dale Earnhardt showcar from 2000 welcomes visitors.

From there Eric discusses more about the history of the State of North Carolina. This ranges from the state’s famous nickname “tar heels”, which Eric states comes from North Carolina’s history as the world’s leader in producing tar and related products.

Eric also gives a look at a replica of the first airplane flown by the Wright Brothers before looking at a late version of the Model T. Appropriate considering the history of moonshining in the state during the Great Depression. Eric mentions the importance of the fact that moonshining was done in a lot of instances to simply make money to provide for families during these lean times.

North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame

Many recognizable sports faces greet Eric as he enters the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame. Towards the back is the motorsports section of inductees which include faces like Richard and Lee Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress, Humpy Wheeler, and others.

Many other motorsports relics from trophies to firesuits to cars are on display as well. Eric stops along the way to talk to Secretary Reid Wilson of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Wilson explains the idea behind the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail.

He notes that it was the idea of Governor Roy Cooper, who put $1 million into the budget for this trail. He went on to say that they have come up with the “first” eight sites on the trail. He does not explicitly say more sites could be added.

Petty Museum

After a quick pit stop for some North Carolina Barbecue, Eric makes his way to Level Cross to the Petty Museum. Eric’s friend Rowland invited Eric to the museum, but the one giving the tour was none other than race car driver and Richard Petty’s grandson Thad Moffitt.

To say there is a ton of Petty relics and collectibles would be an understtement. Cars, trophies, family heirlooms, and even relics from a race team long gone. There is even an entire room dedicated to Petty’s gun collection, of which, Moffitt mentions that Petty got the 43rd of any gun that there was more than 43 made of as a tribute to the iconic 43 car.

One of the cool cars in the museum is a recreation of the Lee Petty 42 car he used to win the first Daytona 500 in 1959. The real car, as Moffitt says, just does not exist anymore.

Richard’s winningest car from the 1966 and 1967 season is also on display. This car, as Moffitt says, is responsible for 36 wins. It was once a 1966 car, but a new nose was put on it in 1967.

The museum is also home to one of the most unique trophies in NASCAR history. As Moffitt says, Richard was tired of getting the same trophy, so NASCAR gave him a jukebox. The kicker is that the suit Richard wore when he accepted the trophy still fits him to this day.

From there, they walked into another part of the museum, which used to be a race shop back when the company was still Petty Enterprises. From there, it is more cars and more trophies, and even the former pit crew physical fitness center. Which was left untouched after the team moved shops in 2008.

Eric then walks over to the Reaper Shed, which was the original race shop for the Petty racing team back when Lee Petty was the only driver for the team. Everything, as Moffitt says, is as it was when the shop was operational.

To finish it off, it is a look at Richard’s first race car. A convertible from 1959.

That was part two of the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail. Eric will continue his trip along the trail through other landmarks in the State of North Carolina. If you want to see the first parts of the Moonshine and Motorsports trail, find them here.

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Picture of Joshua Lipowski

Joshua Lipowski

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