Richard PettyAuto Racer
Born: 2 July 1937
Birthplace: Level Cross, North Carolina
Best known as: Seven-time winner of the Daytona 500
Richard Petty is known to NASCAR fans as "The King" and as the driver of "Ol' 43." He became a record-breaking legend over three decades of auto racing. Petty, the son of driver Lee Petty, drove his first professional race in 1958. In 1959 he was named Rookie of the Year, and over his lengthy career he won 200 NASCAR races. He also won the Daytona 500 seven times and won the Winston Cup championship seven times (a record later equalled by Dale Earnhardt). Over time Petty became a media icon, known almost as much for his cowboy hats and wraparound sunglasses as for his exploits on the track. He retired from driving in 1992, but continued in the sport as the owner of Petty Racing. After retiring, he was awarded the Medal of Freedom, the U.S.'s highest civilian award.
Extra credit: Petty's son Kyle also became a professional auto racer... Richard's grandson Adam Petty (the son of Kyle) was 19 years old when he was killed on 12 May 2000 during a practice run at New Hampshire International Speedway... Richard Petty was the 1996 Republican candidate for secretary of state in North Carolina, but lost to Democrat Elaine Marshall... Petty added his voice to the 2006 Pixar animated film Cars, playing the champion car known as "The King."
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