Richard Petty - NASCAR teleconference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Going into today, it seems like the biggest challenge for owners is getting up to four teams. Is Petty Enterprises looking at four teams or going to three teams yet, or is that further down the road? RICHARD...

Continued from part 1

Q: Going into today, it seems like the biggest challenge for owners is getting up to four teams. Is Petty Enterprises looking at four teams or going to three teams yet, or is that further down the road?

RICHARD PETTY: That's further down the road. That's going to be one of our building blocks. That's the reason with Bobby, we can use that as the No. 1 team right now, and then we can work on the 45 car with Kyle's and all that kind of deal. And hopefully in the near future we'll be able to break out the third car and whether we run it all the time or not just a little bit to get ourselves into that mode. Yeah, if four is the norm, that's the way we've got to go -- (static predominates) -- we've got to learn to take care of another team or two more teams.

So we were maxed out and we've got to look to the future here. We went and made that move before it ever got very serious with Boston ventures so Richard Petty and Petty Enterprises sat down with Kyle and said: Okay, we're going to have to do something, show some kind of progress here so, that was our first move. That was the hardest move that I've probably ever made as a company operation.

And then when it came to talking to Boston ventures about bringing in a new partner, then that was a lot easier decision to make because we had already made commitments to go forward anyway and the investment was our next forward move.

Q: What would you like the fans to think of in the celebration and the historical moment in your career; what do you want the fans to think of or do?

RICHARD PETTY: You look at it from the standpoint that you would like the fans to know that hey, you've been here and done that and you're still here.

From the standpoint of being able to accomplish a lot of the things with Petty Enterprises all these years, and really, it's more of a situation that let's the majority of these people that are new fans, drivers or whatever, owners or whatever, look back and see what really helped build the sport. I came along with a bunch of other guys that helped build the sport

It was sort of like when they ran the very first race, it was like planting a seed, okay, and then the tree started growing.

I grew with it a little bit and then the branches go out.

These guys now are taking advantage of what a lot much the people did way back and this is just a reminder that, hey, you guys didn't get here by yourselves. There was a lot of people that really helped get you here and for them to look back at the history and say -- hey, we appreciate what you and the Pearsons and the Allisons and the Yarboroughs and Bakers have done over the years just to get us in a position to go do what we want to do.

I guess from the fan standpoint and driver standpoint, that's what I would like to see, sort of a reminder that, hey, it isn't always this easy.

Q: How would you like to be remembered by everybody down the road?

RICHARD PETTY: I've been asked that question a lot of times and the main deal is that they remember you, whether you was good, bad or whatever. If you were remembered, then that's about all you can expect.

Q: You've pretty much grown with NASCAR for the last 50 years and when you look at it through your eyes, all of the changes up to the Car of Tomorrow, what are some of the more significant changes in your opinion that helped shape what NASCAR is today?

RICHARD PETTY: There's so many different people, so many different things involved over a period of years. I think I'm looking at NASCAR from 1949, 1959, it started with the Super Speedway deal; that gave us a lot of credit that we were running something besides, you know, horse racetracks or fairgrounds and stuff.

So that move through that era with a little bit of growth, and just a step at a time and RJR when the Winston brand got involved in 1971 and then in 1972 they cut the schedule back, we was running 47 or 48 races a year, and they cut it back to 28 races and started running 250mile races or bigger. We went to old time stuff into the new era and we were lucky enough in '72 to get STP as a sponsor, okay, and that was the first nationwide sponsor that was really coming into the Cup racing.

Between RJR and STP, the first thing you knew, people in New Hampshire knew about us and people in Wisconsin and people in Texas or whatever, because we were like pre-advertised, okay. So we were thrown out there and the people just had heard about it, and then it come along with a little TV and then come along out there with a big TV deal and put us out there in everybody's deal and then they started building racetracks in other parts of the country, Chicago, Kansas City, Phoenix, all around. So first thing you know, we go all around the country but we are already pre-sold because a lot of our sponsors has been using us as a nationwide sponsorship, even though the majority of the races came in the south or southeast.

So all of those things together, just a little bit at a time, just like taking one step at a time, some of the steps are two or three, you skip a couple of steps and jump up big. There's not any one thing that made anything happen. It's just a bunch of people over a period of time and a lot of them working independently just to make their part of the series better. And as they join all together, NASCAR today is what you have.

Q: Is there anything missing from today's racing that the old NASCAR had?

RICHARD PETTY: It's really hard to say because we look at, say, us old-timers, and old time fans, they remember their time in the sun or whatever it may be. And that's the way they remembered, that's the way they grew up with it.

But as we progressed, as the country changes, as society changes, the fans change, we've got to create something different than what our granddaddy or our daddy's think. We have to have a new show or a new situation to draw new fans, and without the fans, then, you know, we wouldn't be sitting here talking.

So we've got to say, okay, what do the fans really want to see and what do they expect NASCAR racing to be, and then we have to do everything we can to satisfy that want.

Q: And was there any point over the last 50 years that you realized that you were actually a famous guy; that Richard Petty was a famous name?

RICHARD PETTY: Not really. It was one of those deals like I said before, it came on slow. There's a little bit more publicity today than there was last week or last year or ten years ago.

The first race I run at Columbia, South Carolina, 1958, I think there was one reporter there. After they got up, we had four or five reporters that went to all of the races, no TV cameras, no on-spot interviews or none of that stuff.

So as racing grew, society grew, technology grew, and then it helped us grow. We helped it, it helped us, so everybody sort of -- they do their own thing, but it helps a lot of other things to make it all work.

Q: Driver ability probably has not changed through the racing decades but do you think today's drivers need some special skills that drivers of yesterday didn't need?

RICHARD PETTY: No, no, I don't think the skill level or the things that it took to get around the racetrack and all of this kind of stuff, I think that probably looking back that maybe the drivers of the older age, maybe adjusted to track conditions and stuff a little bit better maybe than they do today, because on the radios they keep talking to the crew chiefs that it's not loose or not sticking and no traction and the guys, say, okay, we'll fix it when you can make the next pit stop.

When we started the race, that was it. If you was in a 500mile race, there was nothing you could do to the car. So the driver had to adapt to whatever circumstances his car was. And these guys today, they fix it before they really adapt, because there's no need to adapt to what I've got, because we're going to make a pit stop and change it and it's going to be different anyway.

Plus, a lot of these drivers now while listening to their spotters. We didn't have spotters. We didn't have radios. We had a blackboard, and you had to run down the Speedway at Daytona and try to figure out which blackboard was yours. Those were the skills that we had at that particular time. Those guys have skills to find their spotters and find out what the competition is doing. That part of it is a little bit doing.

But as far as turning that steering wheel and being able to get the most out of the car, that part has not changed.

Q: Does hard work need good luck, or does hard work need to overcome bad luck?

RICHARD PETTY: Okay. Anybody's bad luck is somebody else's good luck. I always look at it that way.

And no matter how hard you work, this is one of my daddy's deals: Okay, no matter how hard you work, you have to work for it, and you always figure that you're going to get the pluses out of it.

But the one thing that my dad said is that you work hard, you can overcome a hell of a lot of obstacles in the world, except fate and fate you have nothing to do with. You could be out five laps ahead of the racing field and say, hey, all I have to do is make one more lap and all of a sudden the engine blows or the tire goes flat or something happens, bird hits you in the windshield and you can't see where you're going.

Those are things, that's fate and you don't tempt fate but you go and do everything you can and hope fate is on your side.

Q: Things have changed so much since your days of racing, especially with the race teams. When you were out there, it was almost every man for himself. Do you ever really see the day in NASCAR that it might come down to just three or four teams and that's it?

RICHARD PETTY: It used to be we had 43 different cars and 43 different car owners, and then it swapping down and by now, I think there must be, what, 12 or 14 different owners that own all of the cars that really run right now.

I think that one of these days, NASCAR is going to come in and say, you know -- they cut it right down, right now they think, they think, to four cars; but, no matter what kind of circumstances you give people, they are going to figure ways around that.

So they go over and have satellite operations that's got four cars, or three cars or two cars, so the first thing you know, some of these teams are operating right today with six or eight cars, even though they are not all coming out of the same shop, because they have different names, different owner, different deals, and they still use the same technology.

So how NASCAR controls that, I don't know, and I don't know if they know. But it could be down -- as the racing progressed and stuff, it could come down to four or five different owners, and I don't think that would be good.

I think that even when you have a four car team, and you've got four drivers, then they are really not team players, okay, from the standpoint, yeah, they will tell everybody what they are doing and stuff, but when they get out there and they see that flag, they are going to try to beat the other three guys. So there's no let's all hookup and run, one, two, three, four today, no, the guy ain't going to stand for that.

The other thing is we look at it from our side as a team and when you get serious with it, the team deal goes out the window.

Q: I believe I speak for all of the media people when I just say, thank you for the time you still take to do interviews, to take pictures and even sign autographs for the fan. You are the perfect example of what courtesy and public relations is all about. Thank you so much.

RICHARD PETTY: Thank you, sir.

Q: Do you miss getting behind the wheel, and better animated voice, you or Darrell Waltrip?

RICHARD PETTY: (Laughing) he had more to say, which is natural for Darrell. He'll say more even if he asks the same questions, he'll have more to say about it than I do.

What was the first question?

Q: Do you miss the opportunity to get behind the wheel, and if you had the opportunity today, would you?

RICHARD PETTY: No, I wouldn't do it today. Even if I had a chance to go out and run, because I think they are starting up an old-timer's race series or something, the last few races and I said no, if I'm going to run, I'm going to run with the big boys, but I'm not going to run.

I tell it like this, it would be the same way with you, if you were a fisherman, then you get all your stuff together and okay, I'm a race car driver, I get all my stuff together, I get all the team together; you get all the fishing gear together and the boat and you go tearing out on the water and you gear out and you cast, but you haven't got any bait on the end.

That's the same way I am. I do everything that I've always done; I just don't get in a car. So anybody that's a fisherman or a hunter, you get ready to go hunting, you're ready to go but you haven't got any bullets or you get ready to go play golf, you're ready to swing but you have no golf ball to hit.

I'm the same way when I look at race cars. I come, I do everything like I used to do being involved; I just don't get in the car when they say, "Drivers, start your engine."

I think I've got probably more -- I know I've got younger fans, but you've got as many fans just seeing that movie, and I was in it for about a minute and a half I think. Little kids will come up and say, hey, Mr. The King, so it makes you feel good that you've done something that they enjoyed.

THE MODERATOR: Richard, thank you so much for your time today and congratulations on this milestone. I know it's significant.

RICHARD PETTY: Okay, thank you and thanks for all of the people that was on the line with us.

-credit: nascar

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Richard Petty