RANDLEMAN – Hundreds of residents and fans gathered Saturday afternoon in Randleman to see the unveiling of a statue of the “King of NASCAR” himself, Richard Petty, at the new Richard Petty Tribute Park.
The event was the culmination of five years of planning and fundraising by the Randolph County Tourism Development Authority, which raised the funds for the statue and park, along with a donation from NASCAR.
The public ceremony took place on Hilliary Street, behind the police station and next to the library.
The opening ceremony drew a crowd estimated of more than 200 people, consisting of the extended Petty family, Randleman mayor Gary B. Betts Sr., Asheboro mayor David Smith, Brian Biggs (R-NC House-70), county commissioners, North Carolina Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey, residents, and fans of the Pettys.
At the ceremony, Betts and the Board of Alderman announced a special proclamation declaring April 3 of each year as Richard Petty Day in Randleman.
The statue of Richard and Lynda Petty was cast by Carolina Bronze Sculpture Inc in Seagrove and was sculpted by owner Ed Walker. He worked with the Pettys, including spending time with the late Lynda Petty’s hairstylist.
The City of Randleman dedicated the park to the Petty Family “in honor of their service to community organizations, philanthropy through the Petty Family Foundation, leadership on the school and tourism boards and more,” according to a statement.
“We are proud to have Richard Petty as a friend of our tourism industry in Randolph County,” said Amber Scarlett, executive director of The Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau. “He may not realize the true impact of his continued presence in Randleman. Thousands of visitors from all over the world travel to the Petty Museum and Garage and Victory Junction each year. Richard Petty made a conscious decision to stay in his hometown and make an impact here in Randleman, in Randolph County. We love having him as our hometown hero that promotes our area every day.”
In a news conference prior to the unveiling, Petty spoke briefly about calling Randolph County home.
“Racing has given me the opportunity to go to Europe, Asia, Australia, all over the world, and I’ve never been anywhere where I didn’t like something, but I’ve never been anywhere where I like as much as I do Randolph County,” he said. “… It’s just home. I grew up here. I know the people here.”
The Petty family has been involved in the community for decades beyond Petty Fest and NASCAR Day. According to its website, The Petty Family Foundation has supported Randolph Community College, Operation North State, Disaster and Hardship Relief, Hospice of Randolph County, Local Youth Athletic Programs and Veteran Organizations, and nationally several charities supporting children and veterans.
Probably the most far-reaching, the Victory Junction camp was founded in honor of Adam Petty who was tragically killed in a practice session for a Busch Series race in 2000. Now a part of the Serious Fun Children’s Network, the camp “enriches the lives of children with serious illnesses and chronic medical conditions by providing life-changing camp experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering; all in a medically-safe environment at no cost to the camper or their family,” according to its website.
Since opening in 2004, it has provided more than 115,000 experiences to children across the country. Kyle Petty’s annual charity ride helps to raise money for the camp.