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via Getty

via Getty

[Late] Lee Petty > Richard Petty > Kyle Petty > [late] Adam Petty. The Petty family has been a cornerstone of NASCAR for generations, always having at least one member contributing to the sport. The bond between Richard Petty and his son, Kyle Petty, is particularly special. Known as one of the most respected father-son duos in American stock car racing, their relationship extends far beyond familial ties—they’ve been competitors on the track, teammates, and way more than that.

After nearly four decades in the NASCAR world, witnessing both the highs and lows of the sport and their personal relationships, Richard and Kyle recently joined Dale Earnhardt Jr on his podcast. They opened up about how their relationship has evolved over the years and shared that they are now closer than ever.

Richard and Kyle Petty’s relationship has been through a full circle

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Definitely, who knows that better than Dale Earnhardt Jr, who once shared on his podcast how he missed out on time with his dad during the latter’s racing days, only really connecting when Dale Jr himself joined the racing world. Reflecting on this emotion, Dale Jr asked the Petty duo if 40 years made up for the lost time early on. Kyle Petty’s answer? “Oh yeah!” Even Richard Petty chimed in, “We’re closer now than we’ve ever been.” Kyle went on to map out their journey: “We’re closer now than we’d ever been.”

Further explaining the whole scene, Kyle Petty said, “There’s a period of my life that I was Richard Petty’s son. And then there was a period of my life that I worked for Richard Petty. And then there was a period that I was teammates with Richard Petty. And then there was a period that I went and drove somewhere else and I was a competitor. And then I gave that up and I came back and I was his business partner. We went in and had a team together in the early 2000s. And then… when all that changed and went away then I became a son again. So, it’s a full, it’s a circle. It’s a full circle.”

Kyle Petty reflected on the unique experiences he shared with his dad, emphasizing their value, “I will never get to experience that without them. And you’ll never get to experience that with your dad, right? And that’s something that misses. That’s a hole. That’s and you can’t fill out you mean. You can dang sure try with other ways, yes! I mean, he and I are closer now.”

Yet, despite those 40 years of reconnecting, Richard Petty, admitted he had a closer bond with his grandson, Adam Petty than he ever did with Kyle. He also opened up about a dark chapter in the family’s history—the devastating 1961 Daytona crash that involved his father.

The deep connections and poignant losses in the Petty family

Richard Petty was close to his grandson, Adam Petty, who tragically died in a crash during his 48th Busch Series race in May 2000. Before that fateful day, Richard and Adam were regulars at ASA races, sharing precious moments together. Reflecting on their bond, Petty shared, “I was more excited with Adam winning. I was closer to Adam than I ever was with Kyle because growing up and doing things I was so busy I just let him be his own man. When Adam came along I had a little more time to circulate around and be a buddy.”

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Read More: Richard Petty Joins the NASCAR Community as They Pay Their Final Respects to the Legendary Bob Labonte

But 2000 was a doubly tragic year for Petty. Not only did he lose Adam, but his father, Lee Petty, also passed away in April of that same year. Richard further recalled a harrowing moment from the past—the brutal crash in the 1961 Daytona 500 that severely injured his father, Lee. The crash involved Johnny Beauchamp, who lost control and collided with Lee Petty.

It was a devastating accident that left Lee hospitalized for four months. Richard recounted the extent of his father’s injuries: “He had a rod in his neck, a rod in a leg. Whatever’s up here, tore kneecap up, punctured the lung, broke a couple of ribs.”

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Today, things have shifted for the Petty family. Both Richard and Kyle have found a new closeness, not just as a family but also as colleagues, often sharing their insights as analysts on the sport they love, discussing racers and racing dynamics.