KYLE PETTY (No. 45 Sprint Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Petty, ranked 18th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings after the first 15 races, has jumped from 38th in the standings in the past 11 races. The 42-year-old driver from Randleman, N.C., will lead the eighth annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride across country on motorcycles after Sunday's race at Sears Point. More than 150 riders will help raise money for various charities, including Petty's Victory Junction Camp.
"If you like to ride motorcycles, then the appeal is riding across country. To say you rode across the United States on a motorcycle, almost 3,000 miles, is something most people will never be able to say. Once you do it two or three times, then the appeal is the group and the people who go on this ride every year - Harry Gant has been every year. Every year you throw in new people. Matt Kenseth is going this year, Jeff Green. Ken Schrader has gone the last two or three years. Terry Labonte is going this year. Throw in those guys and the other people, a couple of doctors, a couple of lawyers - we've got people from 32 different states going with us this year. When you look at it like that, those people like hanging out with the drivers and at the same time they like riding across country.
"Harry, Robin Pemberton and Waddell Wilson and myself, we'd ride to Phoenix back in the early 90s. One year we picked up some people in Oklahoma City and we picked up some people in West Texas. We got up with Buddy Jobe who owned Phoenix. Robin and I were talking one night and we thought what we really needed to do was do a bike-a-thon and get sponsors that would pay $1 for every mile you ride. That was the original concept. That first year we had 35 or 40 different riders. From then it's grown to 150-200 riders this year. We have a huge waiting list. It's strange because we've upped the price a couple of times. It costs us X number of dollars to do it. If you've got $10 and it takes $2 to pay for the rider, then we donate $8 to charity. We upped the price a few times thinking the waiting list would drop, but the waiting list keeps going up. I think right now it costs somewhere between $8,500-$10,000 a person to ride. Whatever is left over, when it's all said and done and we pay for all of our gas and food and hotel rooms, all that money goes to charity.
"Last year they gave $650,000-$700,000 to charity. It was pretty big last year. We're still giving to two or three different hospitals this year. We went to a hospital over here in Oakland the other day and that was kind of the kickoff for the ride. The majority of the money, probably 60-70 percent of the money will go to the camp. It's run through the Winston Cup Racing Wives. We started our own organization last year, Kyle Petty Charity Ride.com. Dianne Huff with the Winston Cup Racing Wives through our organization is running it this year.
"Out of the 150 people riding, there's probably 15 or 20 that rode out and are riding back, too. Harry Gant rode out and he's riding back. A bunch of 'em will ride out and ride back if they've got time. We're leaving Sunday night and flying to Jackpot, Nev., and join 'em up there. I've had to test some and I haven't ridden every mile every year. Only a couple of people have ridden every mile. We get a lot of help from different sponsors, and we couldn't do it without them. Dodge is helping us out for the second year. A Dodge Viper will be the pace car for the riders. Dodge gives us a couple of their big pickups to pull the trailers and we'll have a couple of Durangos to help out, too."
BILL DAVIS (Car Owner Bill Davis Racing Dodge Intrepid R/Ts with 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton and Hut Stricklin.)
NOTE: Davis has participated is every Kyle Petty Charity Ride.
"My wife Gail and I and David Hyatt (MRN) rode out here from Michigan. We left Michigan and had a killer ride. We rode about 360 miles Sunday night after the race and then we had a couple of 600-mile days and a 400-mile day and I guess a 500-mile day. We got to Sacramento early Friday morning. We spent the night in Lake Tahoe Thursday night. We went through Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, rode two-lane roads all the way out here. It was beautiful. The weather was good. It was excellent.
"A lot of people couldn't drive that far in a car, but we ride our bikes a lot and we're used to it. We're going all the way back on Kyle's Charity Ride. We've done that every year. We'll ride from race track to race track. That way you just miss Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. You're traveling on Thursday anyway. As far as blocking out a week or two and going to ride motorcycles, we can't get that done, but we'll ride from Watkins Glen to Michigan. That's a real good ride. New Hampshire to Dover is good. We used to go New Hampshire to Pocono. That's a great ride. We'd go up through Maine.
"The Charity Ride always takes a different route. We've gone through El Paso, south, through the middle of the country. This year we're going to Jackson Hole, Wyo., Cheyenne, Chicago. You pay to ride. It's an inclusive deal, and all that money goes to charity after expenses are covered. They haul your motorcycle out here, and that's all your lodging, meals, everything. We'll stop at children's hospitals along the way.
"It's a mid-season break, and we've got these people we've been friends with for seven years and we see 'em once a year. We might exchange cards or phone calls or something, but we basically see them once a year. It's a real social thing. We go to nice places and there's entertainment along the way. We go to baseball games, rodeos, we've done some real neat stuff. We might ride 8-10 hours a day. It's very tiring, but it's a fun thing to do and you're with people you enjoy. We try to go scenic two-lane roads. Everything is very orchestrated. We stop about every 150 miles and go on. Gail and I both have BMWs. My first one was a '76 model. I've been riding since I was 13 or 14. I used to race motocross. I've always had motorcycles.
"Gail never was interested. She wouldn't even ride on the back with me. I had to beg her to go on the first Charity Ride. She decided to ride in the coach with Patti Petty. We take off and rode down the coast. About five women rode that year. The next day we rode from L.A. to Las Vegas and she wanted to ride on the back with me. The next day she rode to Phoenix. By then, she wanted a bike of her own. On her 50th birthday, she got motorcycle lessons and a motorcycle. Now she rides. She really looks forward to it. I had a kidney stone last year and didn't get to go except the last three days. Gail came out and rode by herself."