While a lot of people will try and argue that NASCAR isn’t a sport, it is much more physically demanding than you think. In addition to this, millions and millions of people watch it religiously and it generates millions of dollars every year. And as with any sport, there are some legendary drivers, but perhaps none have been as beloved and successful as Richard Petty. His career has been one of the best in all of motorsports, a career that spanned over five decades.
Right from birth, Richard Petty was seemingly destined to be a driver. This is because his father was the legendary Lee Petty, who actually won the first ever Daytona 500 and was a three time NASCAR champion. Richard made his debut race in 1958 (at 21 years old) while his dad was still an active driver.
His first year was quite successful in Nascar as he had six top 5 finishes and nine top 10 finishes, which was good enough to earn him the NASCAR Rookie of the Year award. He then, slowly, began to quickly become known as someone other than Lee Petty’s son. He made a name for himself throughout the sixties and won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in 1964 and his second in 1967.
But by the 1970’s, not only was Lee Petty now known as Richard Petty’s father, Richard Petty was known as one of the best racers in the world. His decade in the 1970’s is about as good as any decade in motorsports history. He won five NASCAR championships in the decade and set numerous records in the decade while also winning historic numbers of races throughout the years. While he continued to race throughout the 80s and into the early 90s, his hay day was definitely in the 70s.
And yes, if you’re keeping track at home, Richard Petty had a professional driving career that began in 1958 and lasted all the way until 1992. And not only was his career long, it was legendary as well. He won the NASCAR championship a record seven times, and also won a record 200 races throughout his career. He also took home the Dayton 500 title seven times, which is seen as the biggest race in NASCAR. Also, in 1967, he won a ridiculous 27 races in that season alone with 10 in a row, which is almost unheard of. He is also noted and famous for surviving numerous crashes that should have probably killed him
Everything from his longevity, to his success to his popularity (voted Nascar’s most popular racer 8 times) solidifies him as probably the best motorsports athlete of all time. Since retiring, he has been a spokesperson for a number of different companies, worked as a broadcaster and owns his own company. It is no surprise that a man with a resume like that is known by race fans as “The King”.