In Honor of a Prince: Remembering Adam Petty
He is remembered as having his great grandfather's talent, his grandfather's smile, and his daddy's kindheartedness.
Adam Petty will also be remembered for his dedication to racing, and his pure love for the sport. Nine years ago, Petty was killed during a Busch Series practice session at New Hampshire International Speedway, when the car's throttle stuck.
The impact killed him instantly.
''We are truly grateful for the outpouring of support, prayers, and love we have received over the past few days," the Petty family said in a statement shortly after his passing.
''This is a very difficult time for all of us but we so appreciate the way our friends and fans from all over the world have expressed their love for Adam. We thank each and every one of you.''
His death came a month after his great grandfather, Lee Petty, passed away at the age of 85.
Adam, though, was just 19.
''One thing I'll always remember about Adam was how dedicated he was to racing,'' his then 14-year old sister Montgomery Lee said at the memorial.
''We not only lost a fourth-generation driver, we lost a great friend and my brother,'' she said. ''It's not the same without Adam here. Things will never be the same.''
Adam began racing at age six in go carts, and made his NASCAR debut at the age of 17 in the NASCAR Weekly Racing Series. He would run 25 races, and a year later, debuted in the Busch Series at Gateway International Raceway, finishing 27th.
He would also go on to race in the ARCA/REMAX, ASA, and Craftsman Truck Series.
Petty made 43 Busch Series starts, collecting four top 10s and three top fives. His best finish was in the 1999 Auto Club 300 at California Speedway, where he finished fourth.
He made a single Winston Cup Series start at Fort Worth, Texas, but finished 40th due to engine problems.
Because of Adam and 1998 Rookie of Year Kenny Irwin, Jr.'s death a month later at the track, the "kill switch", which instantly stops the engine when a driver presses it, was implemented in all NASCAR cars.
His father Kyle has been driving his No. 45 ever since.
In honor of Adam, his father's Winston Cup sponsor, Hot Wheels, donated 2,000 Hot Wheels to the Marine's Toys for Tots organization.
The Victory Junction Gang Camp, Adam's dream to children with life threatening or life altering disabilities and illnesses, was built later that year, and was opened on Father's Day 2004. A second camp is coming to Kansas City, Kansas.
''Our community is going to feel a void,'' Trinity town councilman Carlton Boyles said. ''All of us have lost.''
We're still still striving for the sky... no taste for humble pie... thanks for all your generous love and thanks for all the fun... neither you nor I'm to blame when all is said and done.—"When All Is Said and Done", by ABBA, which was Adam's favorite song and was played at his funeral.
Thanks to USA Today, Racing Reference, ExperienceNASCAR.com/Adam_Petty, and Jayski for the information, stats and quotes used in this article.
For more information on the Victory Junction Gang Camp, visit http://www.victoryjunction.org/.
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