Kyle Petty – A Man on a Mission
Kyle Petty – A Man on a Mission
Michelle Hoskin, January 14th, 2015
This week we were fortunate enough to be able to chat with Kyle Petty. The Petty family name is a very familiar name associated with racing since the 1950’s.
Starting with Lee Petty (Kyle’s Grandfather), who won the first Daytona 500 in 1959 and was also a 3 time NASCAR champion; Richard Petty (Kyle’s Dad), The King, who is most well-known for winning the NASCAR Championship seven times; Kyle himself, who ran 829 Cup races over 31 years; and Adam (Kyle’s Son), who unfortunately suffered fatal injuries from an accident in May, 2000, during a practice session at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Louden.
Kyle, who drove the #44 car at the time of the crash, drove Adam’s #45 car in the Busch Series for the remainder of 2000. He then used the #45 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series throughout the rest of his driving career. (1) In October 2000, five months after Adam’s death, his family partnered with Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, North Carolina, as a memorial to Petty.
Michelle: What are the dates for the 2015 Charity Ride?
Kyle Petty: “May 2-8, 2015.”
M: To/from where?
K: “We will kick-off our 21st Anniversary Ride in Santa Cruz, California and head east, ending in Branson, Missouri.”
Charity Ride, 19th Anniversary
M: How/who can participate?
K: “We are always open to new participants joining the Kyle Petty Charity Ride. Interested riders should email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.”
M: Do any of your family ride?
K: “It’s funny you should ask that – I consider everyone who comes on this Ride family. We kid all the time that we are just “one big family,” and the Ride is our family reunion. My best friends and some of the greatest people in the world I met on the Charity Ride. It’s hard to explain, but these people are really what make the Ride what it is. It’s the best week of the entire year. But to answer your question, yes several of my family members are also a part of the Charity Ride family. My dad loves to ride, and as you could imagine, he’s always a fan favorite at our local stops.”
M: With the Victory Junction Camp you sponsor most all of the major afflictions such as Sickle Cell, Cancer and Diabetes…is there one that personally touches your heart?
K: “They all touch your heart in different ways, but the visual afflictions are always the ones that get to you right away. Burn week at Victory Junction is probably one of the toughest weeks at camp for me. Children who attend this week are very self-conscious due to their appearance. To see them drop their guard and step outside their comfort zone while having fun is indescribable, it’s the best.”
M: Do you miss racing?
K: “I miss driving. I never know how to explain that to people. The best analogy I can think of is it’s like riding in a boat to go fishing and just sitting in the boat watching, not getting to fish. With my job now I get to go to the track and cover all the races, but I just don’t get to get on the track and drive. I really miss that.”
M: Your best racing memory?
K: “I have two – in 1979 when my dad won the Daytona 500 and in 1998 when Adam won his first ARCA race in Charlotte.”
Richard Petty, Chicagoland garage, September 2014
M: Which “rookie” shows the most promise to you?
K: “Wow. That’s a good a question, because they are all really good drivers. It just depends on the equipment. Obviously Kyle Larson had a great year, but so did many others like Cole Whitt, who is also really good. They are all very talented – it’s hard for me to put any of them above the others.”
M: What are your 2015 plans with NASCAR?
K: “I’m doing NASCAR America on NBC for the first six months of the year. That will all be in-studio. For the second half of the year, I will be on the road traveling to all the races with NBC, doing their pre-race and post-race shows.”
M: Your thoughts on the new Chase format?
K: “If you just look at for just one year, it’s perfect. I’m sure that there will be issues long term, but it’s been great for the sport so far. As for now, I would leave it alone. It’s sort of like that old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
M: What got you interested in doing Charity work in general?
K: “I would say my mom and my grandmom. They were both very active volunteering and serving our community. Growing up, I always watched what they did and ultimately followed their lead more than anyone else’s.”
M: Any specific Charity event that stands out in your memory as especially touching?
K: “Every year on the Ride I meet a family or a camper or I have someone that comes up and gives us a donation and tells me their story at a local stop. Each one of those moments is really special to me. After 20 years, it’s hard to pick just one moment when there have been so many that all add up.”
M: Anything you would like to add?
K: “The 2015 Ride is really going to be something special. Back in August we lost one of the Ride’s co-founders, Don Tilley. Often referred to as Don “Rand McNally” Tilley, he was the mastermind behind every route the Charity Ride has ever traveled. For the past 20 Rides, Don was always at the front of the pack, with his wife Robinette, leading the way for more than 200 motorcycles.
I’d known Don my whole life (he worked for my father and grandfather before I was born), and he knew anything and everything about motorcycles. He taught be how to ride long distance and he taught me how to love Harleys.
Prior to his passing, Don drafted the route we’re taking this year. Don was the heart and soul of the Ride and made an impact on the lives of all who have ever participated. We couldn’t think of a better way to honor Don than to dedicate this year’s Ride to him.”
The Tilley’s, Don and Robinette
twitter.com – @kylepetty
1. “Kyle Petty Career Statistics”. Racing-Reference.info. 1960-06-02. Retrieved January 12th, 2015.