Richard Petty, Stock Cars, Class of 1989
NASCAR stock car racing has produced more than its share of king-sized heroes since the sanctioning body was organized in 1949, but none loom as large as Richard Petty, honored as an inaugural member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame.
The son of Lee Petty, a NASCAR pioneer and giant in his own right, Richard grew up on a diet of speed and midnight oil, a regimen that apparently agreed with him. The North Carolina native began his career July 10, 1958, just 10 days after his 21st birthday, and recorded his first Grand National victory less than a week later, at the Canadian National Exposition track near Toronto.
Since then, Petty has been busy piling up a record that likely to be unequaled, including 200 victories, 126 pole positions and over 700 top ten finishes.
Petty has recorded an astounding seven NASCAR championships--in 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975 and 1979--but his most impressive season was '67, when he won 10 straight races, a record that stands to this day.
Having traded his driving chores for that of full-time car owner, Richard Petty has long since won recognition among his contemporaries as a living legend. There will be many other heroes among the men of NASCAR, but there will be only one King Richard.