Richard Petty (A Racer’s Life)

Posted: March 11, 2013 in Articles, Religion
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Anyone that knows me knows that I am one of the most rabid racing fans on earth and as I sat home nursing my sore back over this past week I watched one of the most powerful and entertaining documentaries on a NASCAR (National Automobile Stock Car Association of Racing) driver or any figure/personality sports or otherwise that I’d ever seen before.

The documentary was titled “Richard Petty” A Racer’s LIFE and for those of you that are unfamiliar with NASCAR it seems that this story would not be one that you would be interested in but as a Christian it was one that I found contained so many similarities to how many of our lives are lived and how if we never give up on God that we can stand or deal with anything that comes our way; even during the tragic times.

The story unfolds with Richard’s life growing up in North Carolina and told of his wilder days, his marriage to the matriarch of the Petty clan his wife Linda who with the absence of Richard due to his racing career wielded a strong unwavering belief in God which led to strength and discipline in her children.

The story spans his awesome career in NASCAR where Richard would see the greatest of heights in the sport as he would win over 200 races, seven championships, and numerous awards to include a first ballot induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

However, along with the triumphs came the tragedies; the first of which after being forced by a sponsor to participate in a drag race event Richard would lose control of his vehicle and the car launched out of control into some spectators killing a young boy (those days people stood “close to the action” and public safety was wrongly non-existent) which Richard would say until this day “changed my life forever”.

A couple of years later another tragedy would strike the family at a race at one of the “super-speedway” tracks as one of his “pit-crew” members would be killed in a freak accident when a pressure valve on a fire extinguisher would malfunction, blow up, hit the man in the chest instantly killing him and to make matters worse the man was his wife’s brother who was as Richard describes it “the life of the team”.

Through all of these tragedies were the near-miss times that Richard almost died in the numerous crashes that are the daily hazards of a NASCAR drivers but the most tragic moment would happen a few years later when Richards grandson Adam who was an extremely talented young driver and who was the heir apparent to the Petty dynasty would be killed in a horrible crash while practicing for a NASCAR Busch Grand National race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on May 12, 2000.

As the story unfolded the one thing that I noticed about Richard, Linda, and the whole Petty family is that though all of these tragic moments were extremely painful and seemingly impossible to recover from not only did the family pull through but they seemed to thrive.

It was then at the end of the documentary that Richard spoke the words that I feel will always be burned into my soul when someone asked him how he, Linda, and the rest of the family endured all of the tough times that they had gone through and though Richard in typical Richard style and humbleness allowed his son Kyle (Adam’s father who also was a race car driver) answer the question.

Kyle said; “Daddy (Richard) always told us to never put a question mark on anything that God has placed a period on.”

Wow! That statement blew me away and as I let that sink in for a moment all of the mysteries that I always wondered about Richard, where his success came from, his unshakeable demeanor, his kindness, his generosity, all came to fruition and that it was his faith and trust that God knows better than he even “the King of NASCAR” as he is known knows far much better than he ever will and that he is just a steward of the things that God has placed in his life; even the people.

If you are a fan of NASCAR this is a must-see and even if you are not it is an incredible story of sacrifice, triumph, tragedy, failure, success, love, life, family, and most of all faith.

I want to thank Richard, Linda, and all of the Petty clan for so willingly telling their story as I was wholly blessed by it and in an instant with one statement the Petty’s summed up what we all should strive for our walk to be like and that is to “never put a question mark on anything that God has placed a period on.”

Ron “Big Black” Garrett

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