Petty honored by NMPA induction By Shawn A. Akers DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 6, 1998) It may sound a bit odd, but more than five years after he retired from stock car racing, Richard Petty was just inducted into the National Motorsports Press...
Petty honored by NMPA induction By Shawn A. Akers
DARLINGTON, S.C. (Sept. 6, 1998) It may sound a bit odd, but more than five years after he retired from stock car racing, Richard Petty was just inducted into the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame.
Not that the "King" had any trouble being voted in, mind you. It's just that that's the rules. In order to be voted into the NMPA Hall of Fame, a driver must be retired from the sport for five years.
For Petty, a seven-time NASCAR Winston Cup Series champion and winner of 200 NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup races, the wait was well worth it.
"I've been inducted into several halls of fame, but this one is really special because it's strictly for stock cars," Petty said. "Being inducted into the stock car (NMPA) Hall of Fame is what it is all about. I'm honored to stand before you this evening in front of such distinguished members in the crowd. I'm humbled to accept this honor."
In attendance at the annual NMPA event were NMPA Hall of Famers such as Ned Jarrett, Bobby Allison, Benny Parsons, Raymond Parks and Jerry Cook.
Over a 24-year career that began in 1958, Petty became arguably the greatest driver ever to sit behind the wheel of a stock car. He made an incredible 1,177 NASCAR Grand National and Winston Cup starts, finished second a whopping 155 times, won 140 poles, and earned over $7,755,000 during his career in the famous No. 43 red, white and blue STP machine.
Petty's final victory came in 1984, in what was then known as the Firecracker 400 at Daytona International Speedway. He earned two wins that season, but would not win again before retiring in 1992.
"It would be hard to imagine what this sport would be like if it weren't for Richard Petty," said Ned Jarrett, who competed against Petty in the 1960s. "You can't put into words what Richard has done for this sport and what he means to this sport. This is just another crowning jewel in a magnificent career and life that is Richard Petty's."
Not only did Petty win the overwhelming respect of his fellow competitors during his legendary career, but he has also won the admiration of millions of fans, his fellow car owners, and the members of the media that cover the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Petty is known for his undying gratitude to the fans, never turning down a request for an autograph; and to the media, for accommodating interview requests. That attitude developed years ago, when the hype surrounding the sport wasn't as intense as it is today.
"Well, you have to remember when I first went to the race track there might have been three or four thousand people there," Petty said. "For somebody to come up and ask for an autograph, I was always surprised. I guess I felt really good about it. I found out when you stop and sign an autograph, it's giving something back, and to see the thrill in the fans just makes me feel good."
Petty has more than given back to a sport that he helped become one of the biggest in the United States today.
Source: NASCAR Online