Known to many simply as "The King," NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty is the most decorated driver in the history of NASCAR racing, winning a record number 200 career races and seven NASCAR Cup championships during his illustrious career. One would think that after 1,184 races that spanned three decades, "The King" would bow out and retire quietly. Petty, however, had other things on his mind. Today Petty is as busy as ever, and spends much of his time overseeing the operations of Richard Petty Motorsports, a three-car team competing in NASCAR’s highest levels.
Petty took the sole role of car owner after retiring from behind the wheel in 1992. Although not behind the wheel, over the next two decades Petty continued to be the driving edge behind Petty Enterprises. Leading a two-car Sprint Cup team, “The King” once again proved to be a winner when the No. 43 visited victory lane with driver Bobby Hamilton in 1996 in Phoenix, Ariz. The following year the No. 43 won again with Hamilton, this time in Rockingham, N.C. All the while, the organization continued to grow with the expansion into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. The truck team was also a two-time winner with driver Jimmy Hensley.
All the while, the fourth generation of Petty, Adam, was climbing the ranks of NASCAR. A winner at the grassroots levels, Adam reached the Nationwide Series under the Petty banner. Tragically, Adam was killed in a racing accident in May of 2000. The accident sent Petty and the family-run business through heartbreak and transition. However, Petty was able to move the team forward and keep Adam’s spirit alive forever by donating 84 acres of his own land for the formation of Victory Junction Gang Camp. Founded in 2004, Petty is still extremely active at the camp, which gives chronically ill children the chance to experience life-changing camping experiences in a safe and medically-sound environment.
Petty was also able to maintain focus on the race operation. Petty Enterprises continued to collect numerous top-five and top-10 finishes continuing to field cars in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. Racing families such as Andretti, Grissom, Green, Fittipaldi and Labonte all raced for "The King".
The 2009 marked a season of change and accomplishment for the NASCAR icon. His team moved to Statesville, N.C. and merged with the teams for Ray Evernham and George Gillett to form the now Richard Petty Motorsports. In their first year, the team recorded two wins and qualified for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase with driver Kasey Kahne. Off the track, “The King” was presented one of his greatest accolades in NASCAR by being one of the first five inducted into the inaugural class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
After making the switch to Ford Racing in 2010, Richard Petty Motorsports again fielded four teams. Capturing five pole positions and 11 top-five finishes as an organization that year, the RPM teams made their presences known throughout the season. The team also moved away from Statesville, N.C. to their current location in Concord, N.C.
With a new ownership group in place for 2011, one that enabled Petty to regain ownership of the team, Petty now leads a two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup team and a Nationwide Series team with drivers Marcos Ambrose, Aric Almirola and Michael Annett. Over the past two seasons, the team has earned two wins, 34 top-10 and 10 top-five finishes. The team has also earned three poles. Petty has continued to lead the way for success for his race team.
Off the track, Petty’s legacy continues to be that of an American icon. There is no other driver in NASCAR's history to have made more of an impact on the sport than the Level Cross, N.C.-native Petty. He has been elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame, International Motorsports Hall of Fame, North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, and also the North Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame. He also serves as Chairman of the North Carolina Motorsports Association.