NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony: Richard Petty (Part 3/6)
Topics: NASCAR, Richard Petty
May 23, 2010
CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA
MIKE JOY: We are joined by a man who engineered nearly all of Richard Petty's 200 victories as Petty Enterprises, is truly a family success story. Would you welcome, please, the King's cousin, long time crew chief, Dale Inman.
DALE INMAN: Thank you. My education in racing goes back to three-time national champion Lee Petty. He taught us and taught us well. Me and Richard and Maurice.
Richard started his driving 10 days after he was 21 years old. Of course, you know, a lot of history goes behind that. His brother Maurice some years later, he tried his hand at driving. That didn't work out very good. He found out right early that he needed to do something else. So he took over the engine room at Petty Enterprises. That left me and Richard to take care of the racecars, and of course a lot of history after that, too.
From day one, Richard understood what it was to be good to the fans, the sponsors, and to love a good family. And to this day, he carries that through, even with his family, the trials they've been through, the lows, the highs that this family has endured. Of course, we can talk about the 200 wins, the seven champions, the Daytona 500 wins. Some of you young drivers out there, including Jeff, Jim, a lot of others, Richard, he's all in. Let's not try to beat all of them, I know you're going to get some of them.
We have two ladies sitting over here, too, my wife Mary, Linda, they've been through a lot. Richard, with this new Hall of Fame here in Charlotte, it will make sure that you're always remembered. Thank you so much.
DALE INMAN: I've been threatened on this one and I have to be careful, bringing Kyle up. You have to be careful with this. Kyle, it was rough on us trying to race you. I got you this far with your dad, so you're going to have to bring him home now. Please welcome Kyle Petty.
KYLE PETTY: I threatened Dale. I told him, Watch what he said.
All right. I'm here obviously to induct my father Richard Petty into the Hall of Fame. What a huge honor for our entire family, for everybody that's ever worked at Petty Enterprises. Richard Petty is the tip of the iceberg. But to have this honor for him and for our family is truly amazing.
I can stand here and throw out numbers that we've all heard our entire life. If we wanted to be a Cup driver, we knew who Richard Petty was and we knew what the mark was on the wall that we had to reach. And it's truly amazing to me, just like you saw the video there, that Dale Jr. said he's been racing 50 years. A whole new generation of fans know him as Mr. The King in the movie Cars. That pretty much defined his career right there, okay?
What amazes me about my father is this. I told this story a little bit one time before. As a driver, everything he did. But when I was growing up, our house was right next door to the race shop. He would come home for lunch, go to work in the morning 7 or 8:00. You would hear him beating on the roof of that car because he was a fabricator. Everybody worked on the car, drivers and everybody.
He would come home for lunch when I was young, have lunch. Then he would lay down in the middle of the living room floor, sleep still 3 or 4:00 in the afternoon, get up and go back to work.
I never found that strange until you look at his career and you think the man won 200 races, seven Daytona 500s, seven championships working hard days, okay? I just want you to think about that (laughter). That may be the greatest statistic of all time to me.
I think for us, you know, Richard Petty is multifaceted. I think you have to look at that. We all know who he is as a driver. Everybody does. Everybody. But Richard Petty was also a teacher. I think he taught the sport a lot. As he came along, as the sport grew and changed, he was one of the first to embrace the media and understand what the media meant to the sport and to him and to sponsors as sponsors came into the sport. He taught that to the other drivers and he's taught that to generations of drivers since then, to the Earnhardts, Labontes, Tony Stewarts of the day.
He was also the teacher that taught you when you did something wrong, he didn't mind coming to your truck and talking to you.
Doing some things with SPEED now, I have a chance to spend time with Darrel Waltrip. Darrell will attest, Richard has the longest finger in the world when he's talking to you. I knew that a long time, but it was nice to know that somebody else got that finger in the chest with the point explained to that. You may have an opinion on that, but you're not allowed to voice it at that time (laughter).
The other thing I think my father taught to the drivers and to this sport was how to win but also how to lose. That's an important part and an important thing to be. Richard Petty was the same win, lose, or draw. Richard Petty was the same Monday, Thursday, Sunday afternoon, whether he was standing in Victory Lane with a check and trophy or whether he was riding home with a beat-up racecar. He was the same. I think that even-keeled, that even temperament is something that we've all aspired to do as we came along in his footsteps and shadows to be the driver that he was.
The last thing from me that Richard Petty is, and I'll let you in on the biggest secret in the world that probably no one knows is this: he is the biggest fan of the sport that ever lived. I think that's what made him a great racecar driver. He loves the sport. He carries a passion for this sport. He loves to drive. He loves to work on it. He loves the guys he raced against. He loved the fans. He loved everything about the sport.
On a Sunday afternoon in 2010, you can still find Richard Petty walking through the garage area, standing on top of a truck, watching the race. He doesn't have to be there. He wants to be there, just like all of you people out here, the people watching at home, he is a fan first and foremost. Bringing that passion to this sport has made him the legend that he is.
It's incredible to see the fan reaction. We talk about signing autographs. We talk about all that. He does that because he expects that from the drivers that he pulls for, the people that he chose to watch. He gives back because he takes so much. He feeds off the fans because he is a fan.
For me, that's who he is as a racecar driver. That's who he is for the sport. That's what he's meant to the sport.
For my sister Sharon, Lisa, Rebecca, he's our father. He's always been our father. We love him more than anything in the world. Today he goes into the Hall of Fame as Richard Petty, the racecar driver. But for us, always will be, the man that we call daddy and the man that we love.
I'd like to bring my father, Richard Petty, up to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Just so y'all know. You won Daytona, what, '71? I stole that Rolex from him somewhere in the 1991 Daytona 500 Rolex. This may be on my finger before too much longer (laughter). Okay, so I got to read this.
On this day, the 23rd day of May, 2010, it's my honor to induct my father, Mr. The King Richard Petty into the NASCAR Hall of Fame and present you with this Hall of Fame ring.
RICHARD PETTY: Thank you. I guess it's my turn to thank everybody and everything.
I want to start off with thanking the two most important people in Richard Petty's life, Lee and Elizabeth Petty for bringing me into the world, okay? You know, Linda has been trying to put up with me, Kyle, all the girls now for like 51 years. So, you know, without her looking after things at home when I was out wandering around with a racecar having a good time, I wouldn't be here, a lot of my kids wouldn't be here, too.
I would like to have my kids and grandkids stand up over here and see what I got to put up with, okay? All right. Thank you, guys.
I want to say thank you to Big Bill France. As you've seen before, he was the one that sort of got everything started, had all the people follow him around. He didn't demand as much as he commanded, I think. He was able to advance people whether it was right, wrong, or indifferent to get the job done.
Then we were fortunate enough to have Bill Jr. to come along, Jim, all the people behind him that made it work, not only on the NASCAR deal, but the motors, car owners, all the people that dropped behind and made it work.
You know, I know y'all have heard me say this a lot of times. NASCAR would make a rule, might not be that good a rule, but the participants made the rule look good. Everybody was doing their own thing, but we all came together at the end because we wanted racing to really work.
You know, there's nobody probably in a better situation, was more a racer, grew up around racing, had a brother, my cousin Dale, to make the nucleus of one of the best racing teams that's ever been on the face of the planet. You know, to have all the people that surrounded those people, I've never done anything. We as a group did a lot. We as a group here do a lot.
You know, the deal of having the manufacturers work with us, to have sponsors now to work with us, to make things work, is just phenomenal. As we grow, we started as a Southern sport. Got more interesting. We were able to go out and progress as far as getting TV, getting RJ Reynolds to become involved in the thing to make a bigger show, bigger races.
You know, I guess we go back and say that's all well and good, but without the press and the TV, we'd still be a Southern sport. It took those people to sell us all over the country, to be able to bring in our big TV contracts and bring everything else in perspective. They were the ones then that went out and really told everybody about all of my races. They were the ones that brought the fans in.
The fans then is what it's all about, guys. We wouldn't be here without the fans. There wouldn't be a Richard Petty. There wouldn't be a NASCAR. But the press was telling the fans about NASCAR. The fans came. The fans developed a love, a real love, for it.
So, you know, I appreciate being inducted into the Hall of Fame. I appreciate the guys that voted for me. You know, look forward to what's coming down the road. I guess I'm going to do like Gomer Pyle, I'm just going to say, Thank you, thank you, thank you.
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