Friday, March 28, 2014

Repost from July of 2008: Thinking of Petty Family This Weekend

It will be ESPN's Shannon Spake who will anchor a one hour NASCAR Now special from Petty Enterprises in Mooresville, NC on Tuesday at 6PM on ESPN2. She will be on-hand with Richard Petty and others to celebrate his fifty year anniversary in the sport.

Just like the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., anyone who has been around NASCAR for a good while has some Richard Petty stories. His Southern charm, big smile and natural way with all types of people has carved a legacy which will last forever.

Petty was a casual friend to all of the ESPN crew members back in the 1980's when that network first started covering the sport. As a TV person from Connecticut in my 20's, I felt as out-of-place at a NASCAR track as was humanly possible. Petty was kind and nice to all of us as we tried to bring the sport to a new audience...cable TV. He could make you smile on a sweltering hot day in North Wilkesboro and that was no easy task.

Later in my career, we originated This Week in NASCAR with Eli Gold from the Petty Museum in Level Cross, NC. We were in a spot as to how to feed the TV crew until Lynda Petty and her church friends solved the problem with homemade food. We had our own covered-dish church social amid the trophies and I discovered pecan pie and the Petty hospitality.

Petty's contributions to the sport in terms of being an ambassador are unmatched. He unlocked new markets and won-over new fans with his aggressive driving and his self-effacing manner. That cowboy hat and smile are known well beyond the American borders.

Spake has a good opportunity to explore the past for fans who do not remember the full-size cars or the fact that NASCAR actually ran convertibles. That is the series where Petty started, and hopefully the show will have some additional photos and footage for fans.

This should be a good opportunity to record a TV program that may have a lasting memory once Petty retires as an owner and gets back to the piece and quiet of Level Cross. ESPN should be commended for allocating time and resources to participate in a well-deserved anniversary celebration.

I would invite you to add any memories or thoughts you may have about Richard Petty for the ESPN crew producing this show or just for other Daly Planet readers. Click on any of the pictures to see them full-size.

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