BUSCH: Adam Petty - The dream will live on

Adam Petty - The dream will live on.. by: Christi Lewien motorsport.com Adam Petty's down to earth style made him special in many hearts. Always smiling, he had a way of making everyday troubles seem trivial. The success of achieving his...

Adam Petty - The dream will live on..
by: Christi Lewien

Adam Petty's down to earth style made him special in many hearts. Always smiling, he had a way of making everyday troubles seem trivial. The success of achieving his life's dream didn't seem to change who he was, he took the time to make everyone feel welcome and to make sure they left with a smile on their face.

"I'd take his place in a second," were the words that came from the mouth and heart of Hank Parker, Jr.

Adam Petty unknowingly had that effect on those who met him.

Many tears were shed, as more than a thousand friends, relatives and members of the racing community prayed and mourned the loss of 19 year old Adam. Countless fans are mourning the loss as well, as can be witnessed by the limitless number of tributes that can be seen on the Internet as they reach out to console not only themselves, but the Petty family.

"One thing I'll always remember about Adam was how dedicated he was to racing," Petty's 14-year-old sister, Montgomery, said during a memorial service at High Point University.

"We not only lost a fourth-generation driver, we lost a great friend and my brother," she said. "It's not the same without Adam here. Things will never be the same."

Petty was killed when his No. 45 Sprint PCS car crashed into the wall at New Hampshire International Speedway. Adam's death followed that of his great-grandfather, Lee Petty, who died April 15th from complications with a stomach aneurysm, only three days after Adam had made his Winston Cup debut in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Petty family received support from NASCAR drivers Terry Labonte, Dale Jarrett, Ward Burton, and others who attended the funeral service.

Kyle and Patti Petty held hands, sobbing quietly as the Reverend Douglas Carty read collections of Adam's life.

A vocalist duet sang "I've Been On A Mountain With Jesus" and "When All Is Said And Done." Patti Petty said the latter was a favorite of Adam's.

Reverend Carty recalled the day he and Kyle Petty baptized Adam and his brother and sister, "Kyle and I immersed his two sons and his daughter in the water.. It was a joyful day."

Strong-minded, yet independent was the way Adam was described.

"He could never be swayed," Carty said. "His dad said Adam was straight-laced in everything he did."

Carty said Adam would often rise at 5 A.M. for tutoring so he could finish his schoolwork by noon and spend the rest of his day at the family race shop helping his father.

"He learned from his dad that he did not have to be the center of attention," Carty said.

Adam's brother, Austin, recalls that all Adam ever wanted to do was be a race car driver.

"All his dreams and waking moments on this earth, from the time he was a little kid, I can remember that all he wanted to do was race," Austin said in the remarks read by Carty. "He wanted to grow up and be a race car driver just like my daddy."

Thousands of e-mail condolences were received at the Petty Racing web site and RPM 2Night devoted its entire Sunday night telecast as a tribute.

In a touching moment in victory lane at New Hampsire on Saturday, Tim Fedewa dedicated the win to his friend.

"This one's for Adam," Fedewa said.

Adam was to have made the giant leap to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series next season. Many felt that it was too soon, since he had yet to have a NASCAR Busch Series win. When asked about his son moving up so soon, Kyle Petty was the supportive father, "The ultimate goal for Adam is Winston Cup racing, so why would I hold him back? The more laps he gets in a Winston Cup car, the better he'll be."

Adam competed in just one Winston Cup event, The Direct TV 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. He qualified 33rd, and completed 215 of the 334 laps before experiencing a blown engine which resulted in him finishing 40th. Prior to the race, Adam had said that it would be a dream come true to race against his father. Kyle Petty failed to qualify for the event, but took over as relief driver for Elliot Sadler on lap 228. Adam was just 13 laps short of a dream.

Not only did the Petty's have fame on the track, but they were know for their sense of community in North Carolina.

"They pretty much made Level Cross and Randleman what it is," said volunteer firefighter David Ridgeway, "even people that don't know them took it pretty hard."

According to civic leaders, the Pettys offered the use of their cars and tractors for fund-raising events, as well as donating proceeds from family charity drives. This compassionate trait was passed down through every generation.

"Our community is going to feel a void," said Trinity town councilman Carlton Boyles. "All of us have lost."

Adam made an impact… and his loss will be felt by everyone, whether they knew him personally or just followed his racing, and his dream will live on in the memories and hearts of all.

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Drivers Dale Jarrett , Terry Labonte , Adam Petty , Kyle Petty , Lee Petty