Randleman has a new attraction for racing fans as town officials unveiled a statue of hometown hero Richard Petty and his late wife, Lynda, on Saturday. The life-sized statue depicts the NASCAR icon hoisting a racing trophy overhead with his right hand as he embraces his wife with his left.
The statue was placed in the new Richard Petty Tribute Park at 102 Hilliary St., located in this town of about 4,600 residents about 20 miles south of Greensboro. NASCAR paid for some of the park in honor of Petty.
Petty was on hand for the ceremony, wearing his signature dark sunglasses and black cowboy hat. The Pettys are more than just racing royalty in Randolph County. Richard Petty once served on the Board of Commission and Lynda, who died in 2014 at age 72, spent 16 years on the school board.
It would be near-impossible to overestimate what Petty has meant to NASCAR and how his popularity, particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, helped grow stock car racing from a regional sport into a major American sport.
While Petty retired in 1992, the Petty Museum and garage still attracts worldwide visitors to Randleman from fans who want to see his race cars emblazoned with the No. 43 he made famous along with other racing memorabilia.
Petty’s dominance also can’t be overstated, hence the well earned nickname The King. He would cross the finish line first an even 200 times, more than the combined total of the second and third place drivers on that list, David Pearson and Jeff Gordan, who had 105 and 93 wins, respectively.
The four children of Richard and Lynda Petty thanked the crowd for attending the ceremony, which also saw Mayor Gary Betts proclaim April 3 as an annual Richard Petty Day.
“It means the most to see my mama in this way and see her honored in her hometown,” says son Kyle Petty, who retired from racing stock cars in 2008.
Carolina Bronze Sculpture of the Randolph County town of Seagrove made the piece of public art.
In his remarks, Carolina Bronze owner Ed Walker talked about working with Lynda Petty’s hair stylist for two hours to get her hair just right. In the research for the design, Walker said he was struck by how much these two individuals adored each other and their community. “They were two beacons of light,” says Walker.