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NASCAR Legend Kyle Petty Discusses Family Life at Fastline and Death of Son

Adam Petty didn't have a chance. In May 2000, on a practice lap of the Bush 200 NASCAR race at the Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire, a young racing driver entered the third turn of the track, but the throttle stuck. I lost control. His car entered the racetrack wall at 130mph and immediately killed him.

He was 19 years old.

His father and NASCAR legend Kyle Petty explains in his new book "Swerve Or Die – Life at My Speed ​​in the First." NASCAR Racing Family"(St. Martin's Press] He was at a hotel in London with his daughter, 14-year-old Montgomery Lee, and was called by a friend and NASCAR official Mike Helton.

Adam was killed in 2000, at only 19, in a NASCAR practice-lap crash.
Getty Images

Within 20 minutes, Mike again I called.

He said, "Man," and reached for the right words and realized that nothing had happened. "I'm sorry. 

" He didn't accomplish that. " 

When he started, Kyle Petty knew only NASCAR. Born in London, North Carolina in 1960. He is a racing driver. His grandfather, Lee Petty, launched his own NASCAR team and competed in the first NASCAR race in 1948. He also won the first Daytona 500 race in 1959.

Kyle Petty saw his Uncle Randy (holding trophy in 1971, with a young Kyle next to him) die in an explosion at the 1975 Winston 500 race.
Petty Museum Archive

His father Richard is a NASCAR superstar and has a Daytona 500. He has won seven more races, including seven times, while Kyle Petty made his stock car race debut at the age of 18 and became the first race at the Daytona ARCA 200 in 1979 with one of his father's old Dodge Magnums. He won and became the youngest winner in history at an event like this.

'The truth is that danger cannot be realistically ignored.'

"Swerveor Die—Life at My Speed ​​in the First Family of NASAR Racing"

"I got a really nice trophy and a $ 4,150 check." He recalls.

"That made me a professional racer. I think it was."

Kyle with his father in 1969, getting his first taste of speed.
Petty Museum Archive

Adam Petty's death came within six weeks he was in Fort Worth, Texas. He made his debut in the NASCAR Cup Series and became the first fourth-generation professional athlete in the United States. "That's good," Petty wrote. "But when you thought about it, it was also a very heavy legacy for a 19-year-old to carry around. 

" Anyone who knows Adam clearly Adam was just a kid because he could see it. "

Kyle Petty had long wrestled with the idea that his son would take him to the race, but it was in the family. It was in DNA. "At the beginning of NASCAR, my grandfather Petty was starting a racing team, and when my dad came, he drove for my grandfather's team. My grandfather came in front of him. The fact meant that my dad had a place to start. 

Kyle Petty grew up with a father and grandfather who were racing superstars and joined them at age 18. He in turn handed down that legacy to his own kids, Austin and Adam (here, with Kyle at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1985).
Charlotte Motor Speedway Archive

"My dad didn't have to go find a job. He didn't have to go elsewhere. Adam did the same."

Among the many highs of a 39-year racing career of over 800 races, Kyle Petty also died in a crash at the Daytona 500, with some horrifying lows, including the deaths of fellow drivers and friends like Dale Earnhart. Witnessed the value. February 2001. 

Adam's death was at the bottom, but it wasn't the tragedy of the first race involving his family.

Trying out a new song in 2021 with his wife Morgan and their two boys, Overton and Cotten. Petty divorced his first wife, Pattie, in 2012, and married Morgan in 2015.
Boontown Story

In 1965, Petty's father Richard had a drag racing event in Dallas. I was participating in. , Texas, when a Dragster breaks down and loses control. The vehicle crashed into a dirt embankment, and when one of its front tires broke, it bounced over a safety fence into the crowd and killed an eight-year-old boy.

Petty was there when his uncle Randy Owens tried to pull his father out of a smoking car in the pits at the 1975 Winston 500 race in Taradega. He was thrown at a distance of 15 feet when the water tank exploded. Air, it crushed his chest, and broke his neck when he landed. He was killed instantly. "It was horrible to witness. I was standing there. I was shocked," Petty wrote.

On Labor Day 1998, just three weeks after the 18-year-old-year-old birthday, Petty's son Adam is racing the Mirrorlight 300 in Minnesota. I participated in the pit stop. fair. When he stopped, crew chief Chris Bradley slipped under his car to solve the problem, but Adam didn't see him. 

Kyle grew up on the track (pictured here in Myrtle Beach, 1979), but there was always the possibility of something going wrong.
Courtesy of Kyle Petty

When he escaped, he went to Bradley I ran up. "When the car came off Jack, Chris was still on the ground under the car. Adam hit the accelerator," Petty wrote. "He later said he felt a bump when pulling out. Did he hit the air wrench? Tires. He didn't rethink until the truck officials stopped the race. Adam said the crew's I knew what had happened to the chief and friends. "

Bradley was taken to the hospital but died of an injury.

Kyle Petty was one of the lucky ones. Sixteen years after seeing Uncle Randy die in Taradega, Petty died in the same race. One landed on his car when the car crashed in front of him. "I mainly wore black uniforms, but I happened to be wearing white that day," he writes. "I looked down at the legs of my white pants and noticed a red stain and something stuck in it. It didn't look normal. 

Hitting the road in Durango, Colorado, with Morgan, Overton and Cotten.
Courtesy of Kyle Petty

"It was a bone protruding from my left thigh. A big bone. A very big bone."

Accidents are inevitable in sports where speeds can exceed 200 mph. But for Kyle Petty, the dangers that always exist are inevitable. "The truth is that danger cannot be realistically ignored," he writes. "But you have to separate it from everything else you think of. 

" Otherwise, you could get out and drive a car. No. ”In this case, the injury was a complex fracture and it took a year to rehabilitate. He missed 11 races.

Swerve or Die by Kyle Petty

NBC NASCAR news analyst Petty, 62, is now taking advantage of the tragedy of his son's death. , Respect his heritage. In 2004, he opened Victory Junction, a camp for seriously ill children, on a 90-acre site on the hill behind Randleman's parents' home ("It was a great place to camp for children." I'll pay for it, "he wrote.

The generosity of his parents, Richard and Linda Petty, was matched by the NASCAR community, which helped raise millions of dollars. He was also supported by famous friends, including Hollywood icons and avid racer Paul Newman. Paul Newman sent him a $ 100,000 personal check.