Martinsville: Richard Petty - Dodge interview

RICHARD PETTY (Owner Petty Enterprises, Grand Marshal Goody's Cool Orange 500, 15-time winner at Martinsville) COMMENT ON KYLE'S COMMENT ABOUT SWEAT EQUITY "The guys that helped build NASCAR for the guys that come in now with money. When...

RICHARD PETTY (Owner Petty Enterprises, Grand Marshal Goody's Cool Orange 500, 15-time winner at Martinsville)

COMMENT ON KYLE'S COMMENT ABOUT SWEAT EQUITY "The guys that helped build NASCAR for the guys that come in now with money. When it first started Junior, Bud Moore, us, all these guys were racers. They didn't have any outside business. All they wanted to do was race. Then the racers came in and started the organization, they started laying the foundation for what it is today. Then all of a sudden there was some money in that business, so people with money came in and said they were going to spend money to make money. The first thing you know the money runs the racers out of the racing business. You get people that come in that own a bunch of dealerships, whatever it may be. They are racers at heart, but that's not their main business. They can take it or leave it. If it goes good, they can get some out. If it goes bad they just go back home. We, on the other hand, if it goes bad, we don't have anything to back ourselves up. These are the guys that laid the foundation, and if they did lay the foundation they ought to be some retirement deals or something or something on down the line for them. That's where they're talking about the franchise deal or the guaranteed 35 positions. Those are the ones I think in the long run deserve a little bit of something."

IS THERE AN ONGOING EFFORT WITH NASCAR TO DEVELOP FRANCHISES? "It's been talked about for 10-12 years. In doing that you talk to them one time and it's a big deal. The next time it's not. You run into a deal where you've got 50 teams and you hadn't got but 40 franchises. Legalities and stuff, I don't know where they look at it from that standpoint. I don't know if they think they lose some of their authority over everybody if there was a franchise. I don't know. One of these days it will probably happen. I don't know if I'll live long enough to see it or not, but it will probably happen some day. I think the only thing in my mind that keeps NASCAR from being completely legitimate, major league with golfing or football or baseball or whatever is being franchised. All the other entities are basically franchised. As they are franchised, you get a lot of people's ideas thrown in the middle of the thing and in the long run it winds up better for everybody."

GOODY'S HAS BEEN A PRETTY GOOD FRANCHISE FOR YOU "It's been a heck of a franchise for me. A lifetime deal is pretty hard to overcome. I don't know if when Goody's looked at it and gave me a lifetime deal they thought I would be here long and they wouldn't have to put up with me. On the other hand, it's been a good deal for 30 years, and we're looking forward to another 30 years."

HAVE YOU USED A LOT OF PRODUCT OVER THE YEARS? "They bring it by truckloads. I told them last night that 30 years ago we got together and I started doing some advertising for them and stuff. They didn't pay me nothing. They just gave me enough Goody's to make it through the year, so it saved me money."

WITH THE TOP 35 NOW ISN'T IT ALMOST LIKE A FRANCHISE? "Really it's probably a 30 franchise with those last five going in and out because of the points. You've got to figure those 35 were here last year. They're not new people. They've got sponsorship. They've got responsibilities, more so than new teams coming in. It's a step toward franchising. If you had a franchise that would be one of the ideas of being able to be guaranteed every time you go."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE COT? "I think it's about time. We've been running basically the same car since 1981 and all they've done is refine it and pushed it around and made it look different because they're moving the tops and bottoms. The big deal I think is the safety. The car has got to be a lot safer than the one we had before. You're never going to make it 100 percent safe, but you put safety in it and then you just throw the car around it. Hopefully the car is not as slick, there's not as much downforce, it's not as aerodynamic as what used to be or what was. I think it'll make it better. The drivers are going to have to get up and doing a little driving from time to time now. You hear them complaining about the car doesn't handle good and the tracks are rough. They want the tracks smooth. I said, 'heck, if the cars drove perfect and the tracks were perfect I'd still be driving.' "

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE TEMPLATE? "Overall it's a good idea. I think they're a little overboard about being so precise. They've got enough measurements on these cars now to start with that you're not going to see the tops slipped around or pushed down or quarterpanels moved up on one corner. They're not going to be able to. You've got enough checks and balances to make it work. It was a good idea as far as at least they're going to stay square or whatever. One thing about the new car that I really like is we can run the car here today and as far as the body is concerned if we don't tear it off, we could go to Talladega with the same car or come from Talladega and go to a road course. That's got to be a lot better for working on the car and the idea of not having as many race cars as we've had in the past, stuff like that. My idea when they first did it was let's go to the car of tomorrow all at one time so we don't have two fleets of race cars. All we're doing is doubling up the cost of what we're doing and it's starting to show up. In 1981 we went from big cars to 110-inch wheelbase and went to Daytona and the cars didn't work good. NASCAR just got everybody together and put more spoiler on it. We ran the race and it was a good race and we ran the rest of the deal. Everybody concentrates on one thing and if there is a problem they'll get if fixed right quick. All you hear right now is complaints about comparisons and if you didn't have anything to compare it with it would be OK. I think it wound up costing us a lot of money. Maybe they didn't know if it was going to work or not. Maybe they didn't want to go in 100 percent."

COMMENT ON RECENT NASCAR FINES "A fine is like making bail. The ultimate deal will be when they set these guys aside for a race. Then they get back to their sponsorship and the general public. That will start getting people's attention. Money doesn't get anyone's attention. It's just a number whether it's $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000, $100,000. It's just money. It gets lost in the shuffle."

WHAT IS YOUR BEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE SPORT? "I don't know if there is any. Right now, I think probably a lot of my contribution is from the old to the new, being able to talk to ya'll and tell you how it was and how it is now and have some idea of the history of the racing deal. Most of these guys out here running now have been here two years or five years and they've got no idea where it came from. Hopefully I'm a kind of ambassador from the old school to the new school and make it work on both sides. You've got a lot of older guys that don't know about the new guys because they're making so much money and all this kind of stuff. They really laid the foundation. Then you've got the new guys that look back and they could care less what the history was to put them in the position they're in. Maybe we can get those people to appreciate the old ones and the old ones to appreciate the new ones."

DO YOU EVER WORRY THAT THE SPORT IS GROWING TOO FAST? "No, I never see too much growing too fast as long as they keep it together. We've got 50 million fans or 80 million fans or whatever we've got. We've got 300 million people out there. We've got a long way to go guys."

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE OLDER DRIVERS WOULD THINK ABOUT THE COT? "The Allisons and Pearsons and Yarboroughs would jump into the COT and it would be a car of tomorrow. It would be steps up from what they really drove. These guys running it now think it's a step back because the car doesn't handle as good or it handles different. The best guys back when we came along could drive the cars today. The best guys today could drive the cars of the past. Then the majority of them couldn't drive either one."

COMMENT ON YOUR TRIP TO MONTREAL "The only thing I never could understand what was going on. All those guys spoke French. We went up there and the first period they got behind 2-0. You could hear a pin drop. Those guys (Montreal Canadiens) came alive and got five goals in the second period. The other team scored one and that kind of wowed them down. The Canadiens came back and scored again and everybody up there was walking on ice or water when it was all over. It was really a neat deal."

ANY TALKS WITH GEORGE GILLETT (OWNER OF THE CANADIENS)? "We've been involved with him through Evernham. He's been talking to Evernham. We buy a lot of our stuff from Evernham, so he wants to know if he gets involved are we still a customer or are we going to go somewhere else? That was one of the deals. At Bristol, they were talking about some of that stuff and he said 'we've got a big game coming up Monday night. Would you like to come up and see it?' We flew up there and watched the game and came back first thing on Tuesday morning."

ARE YOU A BIG HOCKEY FAN? "I was then. If I'm hunting I'm a big hunter while I'm hunting. If I'm snowbiling, I'm a big snowmobiler while I'm doing it. While I was at a hockey game, I like hockey."

IF HE WERE INTERESTED WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO TAKE HIM ON AS A PARTNER? "It's one of those deals where I think that's the trend. I don't think anyone over there if the opportunity or situation was there would at least talk to somebody about what was going on. If you see anybody out there that wants to go in the racing business, let 'em know to just call Petty Enterprises and we'll talk to them."

HAVE YOU HAD OFFERS BEFORE? "We've talked to a zillion people. A lot of people are interested until you talk money or until you talk situations. I think everybody that will come in will come in under a different venue or come in looking at it a little different. Some of them will own a little bit. Some of them will own a whole lot. Some of them will come and be involved. Some of them will be just absentee deals. I think everybody is going to be a little bit different."

IS MONEY THE MAIN DRAWBACK? "Stability. Everything goes up and down. Sponsors go up and down. You need a base behind you. That's what I was talking about while ago where the old-time racers never had that stability behind them. Where if you had a Roush or Penske behind you, if everything wasn't exactly right they had a bigger world to pull money in to back them when times were down. That's why you would look for a potential partner."

WOULD YOU CONSIDER SELLING MAJORITY OWNERSHIP? "I'm open to anything because right now there's nothing on the table. I'll look at any situation. I'm not saying I'm going one way or the other, but I'll look at anything."

-credit: dodge motorsports

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Richard Petty