Editor's note: this interview was done before the death of Kenny Irwin. THOUGHTS FROM RICHARD PETTY, PETTY ENTERPRISES, ON COMING TO NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY: (ON DECIDING TO COME TO NEW HAMPSHIRE) "It was kind of hard to...
Editor's note: this interview was done before the death of Kenny Irwin.
THOUGHTS FROM RICHARD PETTY, PETTY ENTERPRISES, ON COMING TO NEW HAMPSHIRE INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY:
(ON DECIDING TO COME TO NEW HAMPSHIRE) "It was kind of hard to make the decision to come at all. The Bahre family has been so nice, and I said, 'Look, I've got to face this one day, anyway.' So I talked to Kyle (Petty) and he said he just wasn't ready to come, yet. So I said, 'OK, I'll go on and face everybody, and just face the circumstances, I guess.' Like I say, these people up here have been really, really nice. We can't blame the track. We can't blame them. It just happened here. I just said, 'OK, I'm just going to go ahead and then the next time I come up here it will be a lot easier to do it.' Once I come, then it will probably be a lot easier for Kyle to come back next time, too."
(WHAT DID IT FEEL LIKE TO COME BACK?) "You just feel open, empty, because of all the circumstances and stuff, he (Adam Petty) is still there. The spirit is still there. Anything that will go down the first time is tough. All the family was together on The Fourth (of July) and we'd sit there - you know how families are - you'd sit there and you're talking and stuff, and then somebody would pop up and say, 'Hey, remember when Adam done this or Adam done that.' So we're learning to talk about it and try to put it out in the open. It just makes it a lot easier for us to do."
(WAS JULY 4TH THE FIRST TIME THE FAMILY HAD TALKED OPENLY TOGETHER ABOUT ADAM?) "That was the first time, I guess, since the memorial service that all of us had been in one place at any one given time free enough to be able to talk about it."
(DID HE HAVE ANY SECOND THOUGHTS ONCE HE ARRIVED HERE?) "Oh no. Once I made up my mind to go it's like everything else, you say, 'OK, I've got to go. I've got to face it. I've got to do it.' So far it's not been probably as bad as I thought it was going to be. Everybody is real receptive. They try to sort of leave it alone. If nobody brings it up, if I'm busy then I don't think about it either."
(DOES HE WONDER MUCH ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED HERE WITH ADAM?) "I just put it out of my mind. If it was supposed to happen somewhere it would have been somewhere, no matter what had happened. I guess The Good Lord put his numbers in the book and it just happened to come up. It was unfortunate for the racetrack or for us racing that it happened at the racetrack. We can't blame racing, we can't blame the track, we can't blame the circumstances. It was meant to be and it happened."
(WHERE DID THE FAMILY SPEND JULY 4TH TOGETHER?) "We were at home. Everybody came to the house instead of going to the lake or friends or anything. They came to my house."
(WILL HE STAY AND WORK WITH THE TEAMS THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND?) "I'm going to be here. I don't know if I'm going to work with them or not, but I'm going to be (here) for the whole weekend."
(WILL THIS HELP MAKE IT EASIER FOR KYLE TO COME BACK TO NEW HAMPSHIRE?) "I think it will make it a lot easier for him. We did the same thing. I went to Charlotte even though he didn't show up at Charlotte. But it made it easier for him when he went to Dover for the next race. I think it will make it a lot easier for him to come back here. I guess he can look at it that if his dad can do it and tough it out, then he can, too."
(IS KYLE STRUGGLING WITH THE DECISION OF WHETHER TO KEEP ON RACING OR NOT?) "I don't think it's ever come to that from the personal standpoint. I think he is kind of floundering around with, 'What do I need to do?' You have to figure that in the last couple of years Kyle has spent more on thinking about Adam's career than he did on his own. So now he's got to sit down and re-think his whole personality as far as what he wants to do and where he thinks the company needs to go. In the last couple of weeks he has been the most relaxed I've seen him in a long, long time. He's starting to accept it all. He knows that he's got to do it on his own. He ain't going to have any help from that standpoint. I think every day he gets more relaxed to it. It's still there. It's always going to be there. It'll just get further away and just make it easier for him."
(IN WHAT WAYS HAS HE TRIED TO EASE KYLE'S PAIN?) "I think it has been more to keep him busy and keep his mind off of it than just sitting down, consoling him. The busier he is - same with me and same with the rest of the family - if we've got things going, got things happening, then we don't sit about it, we don't talk about it or don't think about it. When you think about it is when you get off by yourself somewhere in a corner and you read a magazine or an article about it or somebody says something about it, then you get to thinking about it. But the busier you are the easier it is to go forward."
(IS IT TOUGHER FOR KYLE SINCE HIS FOCUS IN RACING WAS ADAM AND NOW IT'S RACING THAT KEEPS HIM BUSY?) "Now he's busy without Adam being on his mind from that standpoint. I know it's got to be on his mind. He knows Adam is not a key player in what his decisions are now. Before every decision he made was built for, 'Is it going to be good in the future? Is it going to be better for Adam than it is me?' Now he's got to come back and start looking at himself and our other drivers, and say, 'OK, what is best for them?'"
(WHEN DID HE ARRIVE HERE?) "I cam in last evening about six o'clock and sort of wandered around a little bit. I just kind of settled down, I guess. I'm not that emotional, but this is an emotional deal. If I ever get emotional, it is something like this."
(DID HE WALK DOWN TO TURN THREE?) "No. I haven't been over there. It was just here, and it doesn't make any difference what spot or something. It was just like I said, what happened to car - whether it was mechanical, or he made a mistake or whatever - it's really immaterial. You just sort of let it wash off your back."