By admin | March 22, 2010
By Richard Allen
In my mind Richard Petty has always been a man worthy of whatever respect he has been given. Millions of adoring fans have followed him for decades, and for good reason. Not only are his records as a driver outstanding, but his record as a person is even better.
This past Friday night at the Volunteer Speedway in Bulls Gap, Tennessee the World of Outlaws put on a sprint car race just a few miles from the site of this weekend’s NASCAR activities in Bristol. Needless to say, there were a number of dignitaries from Bristol who visited the dirt track to take in the high speed action.
Helicopters shuttled NASCAR drivers and owners from one site to the other throughout the evening. Each time a landing took place a crowd of on-lookers would assemble to see just who had arrived. One such landing provided a special treat for the racing enthusiasts as ‘The King’ himself emerged from the flying machine.
A golf cart carried Petty to the pit area where he began to mingle with a number of WoO drivers and other NASCAR folks.
While he could have easily disappeared into the darkness of the hauler parking area, Petty remained out in the open among his legion of fans. Although the requests for autographs and pictures was constant, he never wavered or turned anyone down. His patience and generosity are as legendary as his driving ability.
The man who will soon be inducted into the first class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame never got to do very much of what he likely came to Bulls Gap to see. He mingled much more with fans than with his counterparts. He only climbed to the top of a hauler for a short time to watch a portion of the racing and then back down to his followers.
On the night of March 19, 2010, the man I am actually named after rose in status in my eyes which is something I did not think possible because he already held such a lofty status in my mind. Even in the time of his wife’s sickness, which must be a time of tremendous stress and anguish, Richard Petty seems to always have time for the people who care so much about him. He is definitely a king worthy of admiration.
Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.
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