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Petty now a king in name only?

By admin | January 20, 2009

By Richard Allen

Richard Petty Motorsports- Budweiser Dodge

It was announced on Monday that the company once known as Gillett- Evernham Motorsports will be renamed Richard Petty Motorsports. This announcement comes on the heels of GEM’s merger with, or absorption of, Petty Enterprises earlier in the off season.

What one has to wonder is just what role will Petty play with this team? Evidence suggests ‘The King’s’ role will be very limited.

Sure, the company carries his name. One of the cars will wear the familiar number 43. However, a deeper look into the running of this team shows it is Petty’s team in name only.

Aside from the #43 car, one look at the rest of the team shows Petty will have little involvement. For example, the cars fielded by Petty Enterprises did not display the sticker of the brewing company which sponsored the pole award. The sticker was approximately two inches by six inches.

Now, the Petty name will be attached to a car that not only displays a small beer sticker but is fully sponsored by the Budweiser brand of beer. A few years ago Petty would have no doubt turned down lucrative sponsorship from such a company as a matter of principle. Petty’s principles have probably not changed but his ability to steer clear of such sponsorship has.

The down turning economy and the current state of NASCAR have left this legendary figure with no choice if he is to remain in the sport that has been such a major part of his life.

Another piece of evidence to show that Petty will have little control is a look at this company’s previous owner and founder. Ray Evernham started the company and helped usher Dodge back to the sport after a long hiatus.

In August of 2007, Evernham announced he was selling a majority share of his team to sports franchise owner George Gillett. Less than two years later, Evernham has essentially been kicked to the curb by the new owners.

Evernham has been one of the most successful crew chiefs in NASCAR history but now he is serving as the owner and operator of a dirt track in North Carolina. Richard Petty Motorsports’ true ownership has shown they are not looking for advice, but rather, control.

No matter how long he has been in the sport nor how much success he has had in the past, Richard Petty is not going to be making decisions for this organization. The fact that the times forced him into a merger with a beer sponsored team shows the weakness he has coming into this arrangement. Gillett’s style of taking control in a very hands on way, as has already been demonstrated, shows that he is not looking for a co-owner, no matter who it may be.

Richard Petty is still involved in NASCAR. Unfortunately, the sad truth for this writer who was named after him is, he is a king in name only.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

9 Responses to “Petty now a king in name only?”

  1. Ross Says:
    January 20th, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    Richard Petty is The King and always will be. Not because of his ownership of Richard Petty Enterprises, but because of his 200 wins and 7 championships. He is teh key for what he did on the track, not in the office.

  2. Ruth Says:
    January 20th, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    That is so sad. Fortunately, we old-school fans will never forget was Richard brought to Nascar and what a great man he is.

  3. Colin Baird Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 6:24 am

    George Gillett is certainly more intelligent than most other people associated with NASCAR. He was smart enough to realize that without Richard Petty, NASCAR was headed down the tube. NASCAR without Richard Petty would be very much like a western movie without John Wayne. You can certainly see what has happened to western movies without “The Duke” cant you? When the day comes that “the King” has no affiliation with racing, will be the day that NASCAR goes down the crapper.

  4. Doug Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 7:39 am

    Richard could have gotten totally out of it and just showed up at the track. Every parent would still bend down to their child and say “look little Timmy there’s THE KING”.. The line would politely form , the King would pull out the scripto and everyone would leave knowing North Carolina has a legend on their hands.

  5. Lee Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Mr. Allen, i’m wondering if you’ve even read or saw highlights of the press conference. Because, it looks like The King still weilds more power than anybody in the press wants to give him credit for. He told Gillette that he wanted his name in the title of the company, he wanted the 43 and 44 numbers to carry over, and he wanted Brian Moffit, Dale Inman, and Robbie Loomis all to have siginigcant roles in the new organization or there was no need for him to go any further with this. Well, Gillette argreed without hesitation. And, Richard stated that he wanted his guys to come with him because it gave him more power than what he had under the Boston Ventures regime. HE IS ALSO A CO OWNER OF THIS COMPANY. A FACT EVERYONE IN THE PRESS SEEMS TO IGNORE!!!!!!! Is he the majority owner, no, but he is actually very happy not to be anymore. He will always be The King becuase he is Richard Petty. He’s one of a kind, a legend, an icon. He is and always be more than a king in name only!

  6. Mike Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 11:09 am

    HUH! Richard Petty was quoted as saying there would be no Beer stickers on the 43 or 44.

    Get with it man!

    Sure he’s not going to change that on the 19 & 9 but any merger will require compromise. It would be a big stretch for anyone to think they could get Bud off Casey’s car.

    Looks like he still carries clout to me. Sure he may not be making many decisions over there but I bet he will continue to have a big impact on the drivers and teams

    Richard will be King on the track until sombody breaks most of his records (never going to happen) and will always be King of the track because of his dedication to the sport and the fans.

  7. Rob Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    The joy of the media and their facts (or lack thereof)! The first thing I noticed in the article is what Mike said - NO beer sponsorships on the two Petty cars. Was the comment about Richard Petty’s mother in the grave over-looked?

    Earlier was the Sadler/Dinger rumors. NO WHERE did I see or read Elliott was officially out of the 19 car - just rumors! Even now Dinger is “supposedly” driving the 44 car, but I don’t think he’s signed yet for that either!

  8. Charles Says:
    January 21st, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    I read where in the past weeks he and Dale Inman were helping with a Test at Rockingham Speedway!

    I sure he got out of some of the pressure of the business side of the sport, but when I read his comments he seem to be happy and said will be at the Tracks for most of the events!

    Richard Petty was a true hero and legend, I loved the Petty - Pearson era in Nascar!

  9. Bill B Says:
    January 22nd, 2009 at 8:14 am

    Let’s be honest, GEM wasn’t buying two teams they were buying the Petty name. The two sub-par teams were a bonus. The Petty name carries a lot of weight in NASCAR and it was a good investment. The two teams may actually be a liability.