Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Richard Petty (born July 2, 1937) is a renowned former NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver and is now a NASCAR Nextel Cup Series owner. He won the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship 7 times; Dale Earnhardt was the only other driver to accomplish this feat. Petty also won an unprecedented 200 races during his career. His 200th win came in the Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1984 at Daytona International Speedway. President Ronald Reagan was in attendance, and celebrated the milestone with Petty and his family in victory lane. He also collected a record number of poles (127) and over 700 top-ten finishes in his 1,185 starts, including 513 consecutive starts from 1971-1989. He Won 7 Daytona 500s and 9 Most Popular Driver Awards.
Petty is known to NASCAR fans as "The King."
His entire family has been involved in racing. His father, Lee Petty won the first Daytona 500 in 1959 and was also a NASCAR champion. His son Kyle Petty is also a well-known NASCAR driver. Richard's grandson Adam Petty was killed in an accident at New Hampshire International Speedway on May 12, 2000.
Richard Petty is a current spokesman for Cheerios and Goody's Headache Powder . He almost always is seen wearing sunglasses and an elaborately decorated Stetson hat. His ornate autograph can take over 10 seconds to complete, and he has signed it thousands of times for fans throughout his career. His work on behalf of his sport and his accessibility to fans are seen as crucial elements of NASCAR's transformation from the moonshiners and dirt tracks of the 1950s to the superspeedways and multi-million dollar sponsorships of today.
See also: List of famous NASCAR drivers
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