photography by ROBERT CRAWFORD
The Rotary Club of Western Forsyth held The Richard Petty Comedy Roast on September 26, 2023 at the Benton Convention Center to raise money for the Petty Family Foundation and other worthwhile non profits.
NASCAR personalities Winston Kelley, Darrel Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Donnie Allison, Dale Inman, Kyle Petty along with comedians Ricky Mokel, Dale Jones and Ritch Shydner with Phil Ford, Marilyn Green and Cindy Farmer all roast the King of NASCAR Richard Petty. The event was presented by Sessions Specialty Companh and Lewis and Kellery Attorneys. The culmination of the event was Truliant Federal Credit Union presenting Richard Petty and his daughter Rebecca Moffit, the president of the Petty Family Foundation, a Lifetime Achievement Award and Nonprofit Organization of the Year Award.
Richard Petty is the winningest name in NASCAR history, with a legacy that extends from patriarch Lee, to his son Richard, and grandson Kyle. But, success in racing isn’t the family’s only contribution to the world of sports and beyond.
Ever since he started racing in 1958, Richard would always take time after each race to sign autographs for children and adults who had stood in long lines for a glimpse of the King. It was Richard’s way of saying thanks and giving back to his fans. And, at a time when a driver’s wife quietly supported her husband behind the scenes, Richard’s beloved wife Lynda was busy helping to start the Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports, one of the oldest charities in NASCAR.
It is in this spirit of giving that the Petty Family Foundation was created in 2008. The mission of the Foundation is to unlock potential of those in need by providing financial support to organizations, agencies and schools who are engaged in improving quality of life for people of all ages, with a particular focus on helping children and veterans.
In that regard, The Petty Family Foundation partners with other non-profit organizations to achieve a positive, long-term impact in our greater community. Organizations who benefit by support from the Foundation include:
- Randolph Community College
- Victory Junction
- Operation North State
- Disaster and Hardship Relief
- Hospice of Randolph County
- Ricky Proehl P.O.W.E.R. of Play
Merriam-Webster defines an icon as “a person widely admired for having great influence or significance in a particular sphere.” That being the case, there should be an image of Richard Petty next to the definition of “icon” in every dictionary.
Petty has the most wins in NASCAR history (200), championships (7), won the Daytona 500 a record seven times, and holds the record for most wins in a season (27 in 1967).
Richard put stock car racing on the map at a time when television mainly covered baseball and football.
He is an honest, down to Earth person who will spend hours at a time signing autographs, and most of all he has used his notoriety to help others, especially through The Petty Family Foundation which supports non-profit groups that serve everyone from wounded veterans to at-risk youth.
“It’s important for those of us, who can give back, do so,” said Richard. “We made sure to instill that belief in our children”.
Richard Petty was born in Level Cross where he and his brother learned how to work on cars by helping his famous father Lee, himself a stock car champion. Then, in 1958, Lee let Richard start racing on his own, and he kept racing for 34 years.
Not surprisingly, Richard has amassed a slew of honors over the years including being a member of the first class inducted into both the NASCAR Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. He is also the first motorsports athlete to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Today, the King is a cultural icon, sporting his signature Charlie One Horse cowboy hat and sunglasses everywhere he goes. He’s also appeared on television and in films, including providing the voice of his own race car in two animated movies.
Richard is famous for driving fast and, at age 86, he’s showing no signs of slowing down.
In fact, he is one of the busiest celebrities in the world. “He’s hard to keep up with,” said his daughter Rebecca. “Now I know how all those drivers that he beat used to feel.”
Richard Petty is a true icon, and an honored son of North Carolina. Richard Petty is “The King.”
Damian Birkel is a member of the Rotary Club of Western Forsyth, a HarperCollins Leadership Author and Founder of Professionals In Transition® which is one of America’s oldest non-profits dealing exclusively with helping people find work and is celebrating over 30 years of service to our community.