Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Remembering the #45

As the mom of a NASCAR driver, remembering Adam Kyler Petty so soon after celebrating Mother’s Day, takes on a special, if sad significance. It is difficult to believe it has been ten years since the horrific crash that took the life of the first fourth-generation driver in NASCAR history. His father Kyle Petty, grandfather Richard Petty, and great-grandfather Lee Petty have paved a golden road of racing heritage.

Having been born into stock car racing "royalty," Petty began his professional racing career in 1998, shortly after he turned eighteen. Like his father Kyle, he won his first ARCA RE/MAX Series start, in the #45 Sprint/Spree Pontiac at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

A short two years later, on May 12, 2000, Adam, age nineteen, was practicing at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway when the throttle of his car stuck, compelling him head-on into a wall. The impact killed Petty instantly. His death helped lead NASCAR to mandate the use of a kill switch on the steering wheel.

As a mother, I find it difficult to focus past the pain generated by Adam’s death. However, incredibly, five months after Adam's death, his family partnered with Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, North Carolina, as a memorial to Adam. Victory Junction provides life-changing experiences for kids with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. Out of despair, hope can sprout. My thoughts and prayers are with the Petty family during this difficult day.

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