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via Getty

via Getty

NASCAR has thrill, drama, and action, but amidst the thunder of the engines and the smell of burnt rubber is a quieter story. A story of legacy, love, and unfortunately, loss! And at the center of this story is Richard Petty’s family. 

This legacy that Petty name has wasn’t built in a few years. Richard Petty’s father, Lee Petty, started it and later Richard joined in. Then his son, Kyle Petty, did so, followed by his grandchildren Adam. Together they built this racing clan from the ground up. The last of the Petty family’s 4-generation strong line was, however, unfortunately, broken when Adam Petty met with an accident and passed away. 

But recently Richard Petty gave a statement saying that he doesn’t want the Petty legacy to be just about racing! 

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Richard Petty’s legacy is more than just about racing

75 years of racing history in NASCAR, yet Richard Petty says that for him “Victory Junction” is much more important. Don’t be mistaken, because this is not just any foundation that they help. It is a special one. In Petty’s own words, It was always one of Adam’s dreams.” In a heartfelt way, Petty talked about how the initiative was his grandchild’s dream. He said, “And it was always one of Adam’s dreams. And when we lost Adam, then the family got together and said, you know, if he was really interested in this, we’ll pursue that deal.”

Adam and his dad were in Florida and they visited Boggy Creek and that’s when he got the inspiration. But before anything formidable happened, Adam’s life was cut short. But clearly, his family didn’t let his dreams be lost. And hence from the darkness emerged a beacon of hope- Victory Junction. It’s inspired by Adam’s love for adventure and children and it gives children who face serious illnesses a place to experience the real camp feel.

On paper Victory Junction’s website describes what they do. Here is a little excerpt, Victory Junction is a medically safe, yet exhilarating camp, that challenges children who have a serious medical condition to try things they never imagined possible. As they conquer activities like zip lining and archery or experience bowling, fishing, or swimming, children build confidence that will shape how they view the rest of their lives.”

On the occasion of Richard Petty celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Petty legacy, he hopes that Adam’s dream will be the legacy the Petty clan leaves behind. He said, I think the Petty legacy will probably be, and hopefully it will be, more around Victory Junction Camp than anything about racing. Racing just put us in a position to come out and do something like that.” 

They did not just honor a fallen star, or help children who were in need, they did something bigger than anticipated. Something that affected the entire NASCAR community.

Petty’s initiative catapulted the NASCAR to look beyond the tracks

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For the Petty family, Victory Junction started as a living tribute to Adam’s spirit. Hence is more than just a charitable cause. Richard Petty shared this on the occasion of Petty’s 75th anniversary, he said, “And Kyle always says that, you know, every time he sees one of them smile, he just remembers Adam and his smile. So I think that’s going to be our legacy from there.”

And their decision to start this catapulted many other drivers and their families to get more involved in the community. And now we see drivers, driver’s families, and NASCAR all involved with organizations or run organizations.  Denny Hamlin has a foundation that focuses on assisting children with serious illnesses and also helps underprivileged youths. Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, too, has a foundation that he opened in 2006. This aims to support K-12 public education and nurture the minds of future generations. 

Martin Truex Jr, who is a recent hot topic too has a foundation with Sherry Pollex, his longtime girlfriend. They started to help people affected by cancer. As a cancer survivor herself, Pollex has been instrumental in shaping the foundation’s initiatives. And towards the fight against cancer!

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There are many more drivers with such foundations, and one way or the other some of them surely decided to walk on the Petty footsteps. And Petty himself acknowledged that he kind of got the ball rolling. He said, “So I think that got everybody into looking at, hey, you know, we’re in the racing business. We’re in the limelight. And we can help do foundations and stuff and help different people, different situations.”

So what do you think about Richard Petty’s heartfelt tribute to his dearest grandson?