Motor racing presents safety concerns to each and every athlete that set foot on the track but when compared to most of the premier racing series NASCAR is more tragic and deadly. The premier stock car racing championship which has deep roots in the American culture since its original days has seen its stars giving it all sometimes even their own life for the sake of the sport and entertainment.
It’s been nearly two decades since three fatal incidents that changed the face of NASCAR as a whole and redefined the safety measures of the sport occurred where the community lost their best at the track. The most prominent of all was the death of Dale Earnhardt, the seven-time champion and one of the GOATs of the sport, in Daytona while the second death also has much significance as the community lost the 4th generational driver from the Petty family.
Adam Petty, Grandson of NASCAR great Richard Petty and son of NASCAR veteran Kyle Petty, lost his life following the crash during the practice run at Loudon. Kyle Petty, who got to know about the tragedy in the hotel lobby while sitting with his teenage daughter from his long-time friend Mike Helton, came back to the cup series to drive the car in which he lost his son for the remainder of the season.
Now in a recent interview promoting his autobiography “Swerve or Die – Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing,” which will hit the shelf in 2022 the 8-time cup race winner has come forth expressing his thoughts on his thoughts and feelings about his son’s death and his career.
“It never crossed my mind,” Kyle Petty on why he didn’t quit after Adam Petty’s crash and death
Kyle Petty acknowledged that calling quits from racing never crossed his mind after Adam’s death as his death actually made him race in NASCAR for more years than he should have. He added that racing is part of his DNA and being from a rural North Carlina farming community, where failure in cropping was part of life, where quitting was never an option made him stay.
“No. Never. It never crossed my mind to stop racing. Instead, I felt called to continue racing, probably longer than I should have, for Adam. Since the day I was born, I’ve been around racing. It’s part of my DNA. I’m from rural North Carolina and was raised in a mill and farming community, where even if the crops failed or the textile industry changed, you didn’t just stop what you were doing,” Kyle Petty told Newsweek.
Kyle Petty added that he just adjusted and persevered just as his life taught him, that is finding a way to carry on, saying “You adjusted and persevered because that’s the only life you knew. Even when times were hard, even when tragedy struck, you always found a way to carry on. And that’s what I did, too,”.
Adam Petty’s legacy leaves on through Victory Junction
The petty family and NASCAR weren’t ready to give up on Adam Petty and what his legacy could have been as they built a facility near Richard Petty’s house for children with serious illnesses. The 90-acre facility for children in need now helps to carry on both the petty families and Adam Petty’s legacy in NASCAR and the community.
Talking about the institution in the same interview Kyle Petty acknowledged that the proudest thing about victory junction is the accomplishments of all the kids that have gone through the camp how big or small it is. Such as the likes of catching the first fish or first horse. Etc. He pointed out that in the smiles of each kid that came out of the camp he sees a part of his son.
“I think I’m most proud of the kids that have come through Victory Junction and all the things they have accomplished. Whether they catch their first fish, ride their first horse or complete a ropes course for the first time, it’s amazing to see what they can do! In each kid that comes to camp, I see a piece of Adam in their smile,” says Kyle Petty.
He went on to acknowledge that he gets more out of victory junction than the kids, which he is always grateful for, saying “For me, in a selfish way, I think I take more away from Victory Junction than the kids do. I will always be grateful to them and their families for attending Victory Junction,”.
What the Petty family has done to preserve the legacy of Adam Petty is enough or should they be doing more?