Before losing his life in a practice crash at New Hampshire International Speedway, Adam Petty was in his second full season on the NASCAR Busch Series. He finished in the top-5 three times in his first full season of racing in 1999. He finished 20th in the final driver points standings and third in the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings. He was the fourth generation to represent the Petty family in NASCAR. He was the son of Kyle Petty and great-grandson of the late Lee Petty.
All memorials for ADAM Petty should be sent to:
Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America
Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary
5700 Concord Parkway South
Harrisburg, NC 28075
|| Adam's Biography
Born: July 10, 1980 in High Point, NC
Began racing as six-year-old in go-karts.
Sports' only fourth generation athlete, member of the Petty legacy. Great-grandson of Lee; grandson of "The King" Richard, son of Kyle.
Made NASCAR debut in 1997 in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series. He ran 25 races.
October 17, 1998, Adam made his first NASCAR Busch Series start at Gateway International Raceway - finishing 27th.
Busch Series starts: 43
Busch Series Top 5 finishes: 3
Busch Series Top 10 finishes: 4
Best Busch Series finish: 4th (California Speedway, 1999 Auto Club 300)
Final 1999 Busch Series Points Position: 20th; 2000 Busch Series Points Position: 24th
Started in two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races in 1999: Richmond International Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.
Made first appearance on the NASCAR Winston Cup Series circuit at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2, 2000. Started 33rd and finished 40th.
Other motorsports experience includes: American Speed Association (ASA) and Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA
The Fourth Generation
In July of 1980, to the Pettys a child was born.
They gave him the name of Adam, the young man that we now mourn.
With Patti’s hand in Kyle’s they enter Adam’s domain,
Gaining strength from each other, Somehow helps ease the pain.
She picks up his pillow and hugs it tight to her breast
Her grief stricken body refuses to rest.
He pushes a button on Adam’s stereo,
and sees a George Strait CD all ready to go.
His favorite music artist was the famous George Strait
he really loved his country music and very seldom did he stray.
He takes a deep breath but even that won’t stop,
the tears of sorrow that began to drop.
The King, Richard, imagines his throne
He’d give it up gladly, if it would bring Adam home.
From Go-carts to Winston Cup, he lived for a race,
and Dear Adam always had a smile on his face.
Excited and nervous, he drove the Winston Cup car.
The whole racing world knew he was going to go far.
The loss of Lee Petty was terribly sad,
but could it be he was called to greet the young lad?
Now he’s waiting in Heaven, for his family and friends,
so I guess the Lord had made other plans.
Yes Adam really loved his auto racing,
and he was extremely proud to be the 4th generation.
|| That famous Petty focus
Adam was pudgy and round-faced and had braces on his teeth the day we spoke. I had not seen him since (or perhaps I just didn't recognize him), and was surprised at the handsome man whose picture has been published and flashed on the screen since his death Friday afternoon in New Hampshire International Raceway.
He got his Petty smile with the help of an orthodontist and his Petty build with the help of a diet, but he didn't need help with the Petty focus. He was born with that.
In attitude, he was much more like his grandfather than his dad. Not long before Adam was born, his grandmother, Lynda Petty, spoke to me about her son Kyle, who at the time was just starting out in the sport.
Kyle wasn't like his daddy, she explained. As a young man, Richard wanted to spend all his time in the shop, working on his race cars. Kyle liked the driving part, but he wasn't that crazy about turning wrenches. He was into a lot of things.
Kyle played football well enough to be offered college scholarships. He dabbled in country music, until someone told him the truth about his voice. He married when barely out of high school and was a father shortly after his 20th birthday. He has participated in a long-distance offshore power-boat race, and he once flew around the world with a bunch of people in a jet as part of a successful speed-record attempt. He regularly does long motorcycle rides for charity.
In the staunchly conservative garage area, Kyle has framed his own copy of the Petty smile with earrings and a pony tail, and has gotten away with it as only a Petty could. He has never taken himself or his driving or the sport too seriously.
The first family of NASCAR
Editor's note: The following is a Future Watch column Adam Petty wrote for Sportsline.com on March 10, 2000. Adam reflected on his family's rich racing history.
My name is Adam Petty, driver of the No. 45 Sprint Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the NASCAR Busch Series.
Let me begin with the obvious question, what is it like to be a Petty? If you are a follower of any of the NASCAR series you may have heard my last name but maybe not my first. Just for a little background let me begin by telling you about my family. Honestly we have been involved in racing about as long as NASCAR has been in existence. Petty Enterprises is currently entering into their second 50 years. My great granddad, Lee, was the first winner of the Daytona 500 and won over 50 races in his career. My granddad, Richard or as many people know and call him "The King," won 200 races while he was driving and seven championships. My dad, Kyle, has been racing in the Winston Cup series for over 20 years and is one of my biggest supporters and the driver that I admire the most.
So to say the least, I definitely have some big footsteps to follow as I am just beginning my career. The next question that I am usually asked is do I feel any pressure because my family has been so successful or does my family put any pressure on me to do well? The answer to both of these questions is no. I'm really honored to be a Petty. My family really puts no pressure on me at all. I just do the best I can do and learn everything I can to improve when I run my next race.
Growing up, racing was never something that I felt like I had to do because my family always has. I always wanted to do it though because I was a typical kid who wanted to be just like my dad. When I was little it would always make me mad that I couldn't go with my dad to the track because even at a young age I thought I was good enough to be on his pit crew. I've also always loved to go very fast. I've never really had any fear about going almost 200 mph, so that's probably good when you're involved in my line of work.
Like many other drivers in the sport, I started racing go-karts when I was young and raced them until I was 12 years old. What I really wanted to race was stock cars, though. So for my fourteenth birthday my dad bought me a Winston Racing Series Late Model chassis. I never will forget that day. He gave it to me and told me if I wanted to race it I had to put together the sponsorship, get the parts and then build the thing myself. I worked on it for about a month and then quit. It just sat there untouched for a couple months and then I decided to put it together and go racing. It took me two years to get the car together but it was really worth it when I finished. I really admire my dad for making me work hard to get where I am today, it makes you appreciate success much more if you have to work for it.
In 1997, I ran about 25 races in a Late Model Stock car and I got a lot of experience on tracks such as Caraway Speedway, Myrtle Beach, and Nashville. In 1998, I ran in three different series including the American Speed Association (ASA) series, the ARCA Series, and the NASCAR Busch Series. I won in my tenth start in the ASA Series in Odessa, MO and won in my first start in the ARCA series at Charlotte Motor Speedway. These two wins are some of my proudest accomplishments in racing.
In 1999, I entered into the NASCAR Busch Series full-time. The first race of the season was at Daytona and I had never raced at that track before. Man, I was really nervous but I ended up finishing the race in the sixth position. The rest of the season didn't go quite as smoothly as Daytona did but overall it was a good rookie year with three top five finishes to our team's credit.
As I enter my second full season of Busch Series competition, my goal is to be consistent week in and week out. The more experience I get at a track, the easier it gets to run when we go back there. That's something I am really working on this season. I pay attention to how the car feels on the track and what effect our changes have on how it handles. This year I have a great team and we work really well together. I have a new crew chief, Chris Hussey, and we communicate really well with one another and have many of the same ideas on how we can be better and more competitive every week.
I will not only be running in the Busch Series this year but I am also attempting to qualify for five Winston Cup races over the season, with the first one being at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2. Sprint is going to be the sponsor on my Winston Cup car as well and it feels really good to know that they are behind me in this effort one hundred percent. Sprint has taken me from ASA to the Busch Series and I'm extremely happy that they are taking the step to Winston Cup with me as well.
My attempting to run in a Winston Cup race is a very special moment for my family and myself because it marks the first time that I will have a chance to race against my dad. Something that I have always imagined growing up is what it would be like to race him side by side and hopefully in Texas I will have that chance. Qualifying for the race will be a challenge, but I plan to give it my best. I know from watching my dad and granddad that the Winston Cup series is the toughest competition there is, but I believe my team and I are ready to take that step.
But before I can focus on Texas we have a couple more Busch Series races to run, starting this weekend in Atlanta. Atlanta is definitely one of the fastest tracks we race on. We ran well there last year before being involved in an accident so I'm looking for a repeat performance, this time without the accident part. So far this season, we have made a lot of strides. We finished 37th in Daytona, 27th in Rockingham and 17th in Las Vegas. If we continue to pick up ten positions each week, pretty soon we'll have a good finish that I know that this team is capable of.
As you can tell, the 2000 season is going to be a pretty big year for me and I am looking forward to sharing it with all of you through this column. So until I talk to you next time, be sure to read what Lyndon, Jason, and Hank have to say. I can promise I'll be reading to check up on the competition and see if they're telling any of their racing secrets to you.
Some Weeks We All Lose:
It takes just a moment to change lives forever. In a blink of an eye as his throttle apparently stuck, Adam Petty was killed Friday afternoon in Loudon New Hampshire while practicing for this week's Busch race. While racers and race fans join the Petty clan in mourning, we are reminded how precious life is and of other racing heroes whose candles blew out much too soon. Adam was only nineteen years young with his whole life and racing career ahead of him.
When we lose one of our heroes there always seems to be an image of a particular time in their life that they shared with us. Seven years ago we lost both Alan Kulwicki and Davey Allison in quick succession and certain images of each are frozen in my mind. I remember Davey hugging and celebrating with his Dad after finishing second to Bobby at Daytona. I recall seeing a very tired and overwhelmed Alan Kulwicki after winning the Winston Cup title in that final race in Atlanta. Now we lost another racer and with Adam the image will be the celebration in Victory Lane after his ARCA triumph at Charlotte. From his Dad Kyle tweaking his big ears to the three generations of Pettys flashing their trademark smiles, that scene was the gift that Adam left us race fans with.
When tragedy strikes we all remember where we were when we heard the fateful news. I was only three years old when John F Kennedy was assassinated but I remember I was playing on the living room floor watching my Mom cry. I was changing my daughter's diaper the morning the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded. I was packing boxes at my apartment when I heard the horrifying news of the Columbine High School massacre. Friday I was playing euchre online when the newsletter service from Racingone.com announced the crash. My first thought was that I hoped Adam would recover in time for his second Cup start in Charlotte. We watch our racing heroes fly around the track at break neck speed and while we understand the dangers of our sport we bury the idea of anyone getting killed. When the second bulletin was sent I was in disbelief. My mind flashed back to when I heard about the loss of our other fallen racing heroes and suddenly the fun and excitement of racing was gone again.
While Adam Petty might never have measured up to some people's measure of greatness on the track, he has already made his family proud in his nineteen short years. Just like Lee, Richard, and Kyle before him, the true measure of greatness to the Petty family was not just races won but how they are winners off the track as well. Lee taught Richard not only how to build and race winning racecars, but also what it means to give back to the sport and his community. King Richard was not only NASCAR's most successful driver on the track he is still its best role model off the track today. Kyle might not have lived up to the Petty mystique on the track in many fans eyes (Due to factors out of his control in my humble opinion) but he has carried on the Petty tradition with his charitable endeavors through the years. It is delightfully amazing that a family with 262 Winston Cup victories still has their priorities in the right place in this day and age. Perhaps that is our biggest loss of all since we are robbed of what Adam had to offer off the track as well as on.
Stock Car racing is big on tradition. I still get goose bumps at the sight of all the pit crews lined up on pit road for our National Anthem before a race. I can still remember the emotional sight of AK's hauler doing its slow solo lap of Bristol after Alan's death. The tug at the heartstrings I felt while watching Donnie Allison drive his nephew's 28 car with tears in his eyes at Talladega are still a vivid memory. I'm sure the tributes to Adam will be etched in our minds as well. Racing stories week in and week out are often about who won and who lost. This week we all lost, as we had to say goodbye to Adam at such a tender age.
|| A Shining Star
Adam was a bright young star with a monumental future ahead of him. His talent, sincerity, and sense of values made him a most endearing young man. Adam was genuine, in every sense of the word. He was not afraid to speak of the love he had for his family, friends, and the sport in which he was prepared to devote his life to. In the Petty tradition, Adam gave of himself, in every way possible.
Adam had a legacy of role models in which to follow. Lee Petty, Adam's great grandfather, was NASCAR's first super star. Richard, Lee's son, was NASCAR's most prominent figure, for many years, and arguably may still be. A 7 time champion and fan favorite, Richard helped to mold the two generations that were to follow with tact, and sincerity. And then Kyle, Adam's father, who's wit, honesty, and compassion brings such a warmth to the Winston Cup garage.
When putting all of that into perspective, it's not surprising that Adam was the person he was. It was in his blood to be a part of the family business, and to succeed. To see the light of such an energetic young talent fade before it really began to burn is such a devastating tragedy.
In times like this, it reminds us of the element of danger in our sport. This is a possibility that most of us put out of our minds. It drives home the reality that what these men do is truly amazing. It takes a phenomenal amount of courage to participate in this sport, and a focus which most of us could only dream of. These men are heroes in every sense of the word. These men are a true and shining example of what it is to follow your dreams. Adam followed his dream, and his heart, which is something a rare few of us have the opportunity to chase.
Adam's faith in God, and love for his family were so apparent in his life. He took every opportunity possible to praise his father for the type of upbringing Kyle gave him, the faith he instilled in him, and the confidence he bred in him. He was very proud of his family and their accomplishments, and gracious of the Petty name bestowed upon him. He deserved that name.
It serves us well to remember how precious life really is. A wonderful reminder of how people can touch our lives in the simplest of ways. While the pain of this tragedy is still fresh, it is a time for the sport to pull together and help each other. This sport makes a difference in people's lives; I sure know it has in mine. It has taught me that love and compassion can live in harmony with determination and perseverance. It has strengthened my belief in God, and myself. It has taught me to survive humiliation, and treasure accomplishment, and I am but a writer. I could never do in my life what these men do, what Adam has done, but I sure can look up to them, and learn from them.
Adam will never be forgotten in this sport. Even though he was with us only a short while, his memory will continue on in the hearts of the fans and the drivers forever. His shining smile and fun loving ways will forever grace the face of this sport. While I can't imagine the pain the Petty family must feeling, I can trust in the fact that God will give them what they need to endure this. He will help us all. It's just going to take some time.
While the rest of the world mourns the tragedy of a fallen sports hero, the NASCAR Community mourns the loss of a friend, a competitive spirit, a son, and a grandson. He left behind a permanent imprint on our hearts, and our minds. I take pride in the fact that I am a NASCAR fan, and from my area of the country many people cannot understand why. At times like this I question it myself, but to be able to be a part of such a wonderful sport, that feeling never lasts long. My heart goes out to each and every one of you that mourns for Adam today, and to the Petty family, my prayers and best wishes are with you.
You know a dream is like a river
Ever changin' as it flows
And a dreamer's just a vessel
That must follow where it goes
Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store
Makes each day a constant battle
Just to stay between the shores
Too many times we stand aside
And let the waters slip away
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
It has now become today
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied
Choose to chance the rapids
And dare to dance that tide
There's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls
With the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all
And I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
Like a bird upon the wind
These waters are my sky
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try
Lord, I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry
*Garth Brooks, Double Live,