March 14, 2006

Today in Automotive History

1914 Famous father is born

Stock-car racer Lee Arnold Petty was born near Randleman, North Carolina, on this day. Now famous as the father of Richard Petty--the all-time "winningest" racer in NASCAR history--Lee Petty was no slouch in his own day. In 1959, Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 at the brand new Daytona International Speedway driving a new hardtop Olds 88 to a photo finish with Johnny Beauchamp. The Pettys would switch to Plymouths midway through the season that year. Lee and Richard Petty drove Plymouths, Chryslers, and Dodges for most of their remaining careers. Together the father-and-son team combined for 254 wins, including eight Daytona 500s. However, Lee and Richard also took father and son competition to its extremes. The embodiment of stock car racing's hard-nosed past, Lee Petty never lost a race on account of being too kind to his competitors, even if his competitors were family. Richard Petty remembers his quest to win his first NASCAR race at the Grand National Exposition in Toronto, "Cotton Owens was leading and daddy was second. They came up on me and I moved over to let them pass. Cotton went on, but daddy bumped me in the rear and my car went right into the wall." Richard finished in 17th place. In 1959, Richard thought he had won his first race after finishing first in the Grand National at Lakewood, Georgia. However, Lee, who finished second in the event, protested his son's victory. The protest was upheld, and Lee won the race. Before you call Richard Petty "The King," remember "The King" isn't an absolute monarch when his daddy is around. Richard's son Kyle is also a successful NASCAR racer, and no doubt benefits from the family's competitive edge.

Posted by Quality Weenie at March 14, 2006 07:57 AM | TrackBack