Petty Enterprises

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This article is about the defunct NASCAR team. For the team formed from the merge with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, see Richard Petty Motorsports.
Lee Petty Engineering/Petty Enterprises
PettyEnterpisesLogo19902008
Owner(s) Richard Petty
Kyle Petty
Boston Ventures
Base North Carolina
Series Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, Craftsman Truck Series
Car numbers 34, 42, 43, 44, 45
Race drivers Lee Petty
Richard Petty
Kyle Petty
Adam Petty
Buddy Baker
Pete Hamilton
Wally Dallenbach, Jr
John Andretti
Bobby Labonte
Carlos Contreras
Bobby Hamilton
Rick Wilson
Jeff Green
Sponsors STP, General Mills, Hot Wheels, Sprint, Georgia Pacific, Wells Fargo, Marathon, Coca Cola, Tire Kingdom, Schwans
Manufacturer Ford, Dodge, Chrysler, Plymouth, Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac, Chevrolet
Opened 1949
Closed 2008
Career
Drivers' Championships 10 (1954, 1958, 1959, 1964, 1967, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1979)
Race victories 270
Sprint Cup: 268
Truck Series: 2

Petty Enterprises was a NASCAR racing team based in Randleman, North Carolina, USA. It was founded by Lee Petty with his two sons Richard Petty and Maurice Petty. The team was later owned by Richard Petty, his son Kyle Petty and Boston Ventures. At the time of its folding the team operated the #43 and #45 Dodge Chargers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Petty Enterprises ran from 1949 until 2008. The team closed shop in January 2009 and merged with Gillett Evernham Motorsports after sponsorship could not be found for any of the cars in the Petty stable; the merged team took the name Richard Petty Motorsports, adopting a logo similar to that of Petty Enterprises' logo.

Glory Years[edit]

Petty's car used for his 1979 Daytona 500 win, on display at Daytona USA in January 2001

Originally founded as Lee Petty Engineering, from 1954 to 1979, Petty Enterprises won ten championships in NASCAR's premier series. Three of those championships came with Lee Petty driving the #42, while accumulating 54 wins, and a record seven championships came with Richard Petty driving the #43, while accumulating 200 wins. The car pictured is a 1979 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Show Car prepared by Petty Enterprises to commemorate Richard's 1979 Championship. The car that Richard drove to his sixth Daytona 500 win was similar but with no stripes or sponsor logos on the top half of the car. Richard Petty had the most successful season in history in 1967 with 27 wins, including 10 in a row, cumluating with the championship. 1979 saw Richard's son, Kyle Petty, start his career winning the very first race he entered - the Arca 200 at Daytona International Speedway.

Dark Years[edit]

From 1980 to 1983, Richard Petty won eight races, which brought his career total to 198 NASCAR wins. At the 1983 Miller High Life 500, Petty's 198th win, the car failed post-race inspection. The car was found to have illegal tires, and an over-sized engine. Petty was fined $35,000 but the victory was upheld. The incident increased friction at the teleft and Richard left Petty Enterprises at year's end. He took the STP sponsorship and the #43 to Mike Curb for 1984–1985, where he scored wins #199 and #200.

For 1984-1985, Petty Enterprises concentrated on Kyle Petty's #7 7-Eleven-sponsored entry. Kyle earned eight top 5's, but no wins during that stretch.

For 1986, Richard Petty returned to the family operation, and Kyle Petty left to drive for the Wood Brothers. The Petty Enterprise team continued to sag in performance, and hit rock bottom in 1989 when Richard failed to qualify for four races. Richard failed to win another race, and retired following the 1992 season.

Resurgence[edit]

After Richard Petty's retirement, Rick Wilson took over the renumbered #44 car, but found little success. The car number was changed back to #43, and Busch Series Rookie of the Year Bobby Hamilton was hired in 1995. In 1996, Hamilton earned the team's first victory since 1983 at Phoenix International Raceway.[1] Hamilton won again at Rockingham in 1997. He left the team at season's end to tend to his own race team in the newly formed Craftsman Truck Series, and to drive the #4 for Morgan-McClure Motorsports.

In 1998, journeyman John Andretti was hired, and he gave the team another win at Martinsville (which would ultimately be the final win for Petty Enterprises). Andretti would drive for the team until 2003, with only a second place finish at Bristol. In addition, Kyle returned to the family organization, merging his own team, pe2, with Petty Enterprises.

The team appeared to be on the rise again with fourth-generation driver Adam Petty joining the team. He made his first Winston Cup start in April 2000, and many experts believed he would be the future of the team. Kyle Petty was planning to move out of the cockpit soon after, and into the full-time ownership role of the team.

Relocation and Demise[edit]

About a month and a half after his first career Winston Cup start, Adam Petty was killed in a crash at the New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. The tragedy deeply affected the team. Kyle Petty took over what was supposed to be Adam's #45 car, and drove it for several seasons in his honor. The team lost longtime sponsor STP in mid-2000, and changed to General Mills. The team began a noticeable downward slide, and would never win another race in Cup competition.

John Andretti was released in favor of Brazilian driver Christian Fittipaldi, who struggled and was also released, and Andretti returned to fill in for a few races. Then Jeff Green took over for 2004-2005. In 2006, the team brought in 2000 Winston Cup champion Bobby Labonte and former Hendrick crew chief Robbie Loomis. Many analysts saw this combination as the key to putting Petty Enterprises back into victory lane. The team's first year together showed promise, Labonte finished 21st in the points. Late in the 2007 season, Petty Enterprises moved its shop into the old Robert Yates Racing facility in Mooresville, North Carolina. It would be the first time since the inception of the company that it wouldn't be located in Level Cross, North Carolina. "PE believes that this is necessary to move forward with the team," Richard Petty said. "It's kind of hard for us and the people in the community to accept maybe we're not there anymore. We just feel for us to move forward and keep up with where NASCAR is going, we just felt we had to try to go somewhere else."[2] That year, Labonte improved to 18th in points. In 2008, Boston Ventures, an investment firm with stakes in companies such as Six Flags, invested into Petty Enterprises, convincing Labonte to sign a four-year extension to drive the #43. Labonte fell back to 21st in points in 2008, posting just two top-10 finishes, while the #45 car posted no top-10s and went through multiple sponsors and drivers. Earlier in the year, General Mills announced they would leave the team to sponsor Richard Childress Racing's fourth cup car in 2009. Rumors surfaced in early December 2008 that Petty Enterprises may cease operations and liquidate its assets, since Boston Venture was unable to secure sponsorship for either car. In January 2009, Petty Enterprises merged with Gillette Evernham Motorsports and the #43 car was absorbed into the team. Labonte left the team before the 2009 season, leaving the car with no driver and no sponsor for 2009. The #45 team was folded, leaving Kyle Petty with no ride for 2009. By January 2009, the only employees left were Robbie Loomis and Richard Petty himself. CEO David F. Zucker was reassigned to the Richard Petty Driving Experience, which Boston Ventures also controled.

The team's merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports moved the #43 over to that team, where it is currently driven by Aric Almirola and sponsored by Smithfield Foods.

Old Race Shop in Level Cross[edit]

The facilities in Randleman that was vacated by the race team is still owned by the Petty family and is now (since 2010) a small business called The Petty Garage and specializes in custom cars, vintage restorations, and other specialty automotive work. The last few years has seen it host Mopar (Chrysler Co. vehcles) appreciation meets.

Car #43 History[edit]

Arguably one of the most recognizable numbers in motorsports, the 43 team debuted in 1949, when Lee Petty formed Lee Petty Engineering and the NASCAR Grand National Division #42. The team's first win came that year in Lee's 5th start at Heidelberg Raceway, with Petty and the team finishing 2nd in points that season. Petty won one race in each of the years 1950 and 1951, before collecting three victories in 1952. 1953 saw the team expand to a multi-car team for the first time, fielding a Plymouth for Jimmie Lewallen at Palm Beach Speedway, who finished 2nd to Petty. Lee grabbed five wins that season and finished second in points before winning the championship in 1954. He followed that with six wins the next season and two more the following year, making him one of the most dominating drivers in the series at that time. In 1957, Petty won 4 races as the team began running additional teams. Tiny Lund, Bill Mutz, and Ralph Earnhardt all ran races with the team, before Bobby Myers was killed in an accident at Darlington Raceway.

Car #44/#45 History[edit]

The 44 car in 1997

The #45 was not always part of Petty Enterprises. The car actually started out as the #44 with PE2 which was formed by Kyle Petty in 1997, when he was unable to drive for Petty Enterprises. Sponsored by Hot Wheels, Kyle would not find success running his own operation. In 2000, Kyle merged PE2 into Petty Enterprises. Kyle would be sponsored by Sprint, now running the #45 in honor of his son Adam who was killed during Busch Series practice at New Hampshire International Speedway. From 2003 to 2005, Kyle would pick up Georgia-Pacific and Brawny as his sponsors (the two moving over from the #44 team), but was still unable to bring Petty Enterprises back to its former days. With the addition of both Bobby Labonte and Robbie Loomis in 2006, as well as sponsors Wells Fargo and National Tire & Battery, Petty improved his position to 34th in the points. For 2007, with the passing of Benny Parsons, Kyle would join TNT for six races, dubbed their "Summer Series". During this time, John Andretti returned to the team for four races, and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Chad McCumbee made his debut at Pocono Raceway. Before his stint in the booth for TNT, Petty had some significant on-track success, finishing 3rd in the Coca-Cola 600, his first top-5 Cup finish since 1997. After the Centurion Boats at the Glen, Kyle injured his hand in the team's hauler due to punching a desk. Petty would sit out two races while Kenny Wallace and McCumbee filled in. The #45 team finished 35th in the 2007 owners points.[3] Kyle Petty in an interview with NASCAR.com said "I no longer work for the team" when referring to Petty Enterprises.

The #44 returned as a Dodge team in 2001 with sponsorship from Georgia-Pacific and Buckshot Jones driving. In his first year driving the car Jones finished 41st in points, failing to qualify six times and not recording a single top ten finish. Jones returned in 2002 but again struggled, and was released approximately mid-season. Petty Enterprises hired several substitute drivers including Jerry Nadeau, who nearly led the team to victory at Sonoma in June, and Greg Biffle, who ran the last three races.

After being used sparingly over the next season recent Petty signee Christian Fittipaldi took over the car for 2004, but was released.

In 2009, Petty said the #44 would return with McCumbee, but McCumbee said "the plans are up in the air" due to lack of funding. With the recent merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports, those plans were completely scrapped and McCumbee was without a ride for 2009. The #44 instead took the place for the #10 at Richard Petty Motorsports, with A. J. Allmendinger driving.

Petty Blue[edit]

Richard Petty's "Petty Blue" 1970 Plymouth Superbird on display

One of the most distinctive features of the #43 car is its color. Petty Blue, as it's called, was created by the Petty Family. According to Richard, the color was created by accident when they didn't have enough white or dark blue paint to cover the entire car. The resulting mix of white and blue proved to be very popular and remains on the #43 car to this day.[4] Rumors state that Richard Petty would not allow STP to sponsor his car unless he could keep it painted blue. A compromise was reached to paint the car half Petty Blue and half STP Red. Thus was born one of the most famous paint schemes in racing history.

History of Drivers[edit]

#1 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Dick Brooks 1985 Petty Enterprises Ford
Morgan Shepherd 1985 Petty Enterprises Ford

#2 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Johnny Dodson 1957 Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile

#7 History[edit]

Kyle Petty's 1983 Pontiac Grand Prix
Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Kyle Petty 1983–1984 7-11 Pontiac/Ford

#11 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Buddy Baker 1971–1972 Dodge/STP Dodge

#38 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Lee Petty 1949 Petty Enterprises Buick

#40 History[edit]

A street replica of Pete Hamilton's Plymouth Superbird, with which he won the 1970 Daytona 500
Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Pete Hamilton 1970 Petty Enterprises/7-Up Plymouth

#41 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Buck Baker
Jim Paschal
Lee Petty
Maurice Petty
1964 Petty Enterprises Plymouth

#42 History[edit]

Lee Petty's 1956 Dodge Coronet
Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Lee Petty 1949–1964 Petty Enterprises Various
Richard Petty 1965 Petty Enterprises Plymouth
Marvin Panch
Paul Lewis
Tiny Lund
G.C. Spencer
1966–1967 Petty Enterprises Plymouth
Dan Gurney 1970 Petty Enterprises Plymouth
Kyle Petty 1979-82 STP Various

#43 History[edit]

John Andretti's 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix
Bobby Labonte's 2007 Dodge Charger
Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Bob Welborn 1954 Petty Enterprises Dodge
Bill Lutz 1957 Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile
Richard Petty 1958–1983; 1986–1992 Chrysler Corp./STP Various
LeeRoy Yarbrough
Darrell Dieringer
Jim Paschal
1965–1967, 1970 Petty Enterprises Plymouth
Wally Dallenbach Jr.
John Andretti
1994 STP Pontiac
Bobby Hamilton 1995–1997 STP Pontiac
John Andretti 1998–1999 STP Pontiac
John Andretti 2000 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Pontiac
John Andretti 2001–2003 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
Christian Fittipaldi 2003 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
Scott Maxwell 2003 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
Jeff Green 2003–2005 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
Bobby Labonte 2006–2008 Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge

#44 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Bob Welborn 1954 Petty Enterprises Dodge
Rick Wilson 1993 STP Pontiac
Kyle Petty 1997–2000 Hot Wheels Pontiac
Steve Grissom 2000 Hot Wheels Pontiac
Buckshot Jones 2001–2002 Georgia Pacific Dodge
Jerry Nadeau 2002 Georgia Pacific Dodge
Christian Fittipaldi 2003 Bugles Dodge

#45 History[edit]

Kyle Petty's 2007 Dodge Avenger
Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Adam Petty 2000 Sprint Chevrolet
Kyle Petty 2000–2002 Sprint Pontiac/Dodge
Kyle Petty 2003–2005 Georgia Pacific Dodge
Kyle Petty 2006 Wells Fargo
Marathon
Tire Kingdom
Schwans
MyCokeRewards
Dodge
Kyle Petty
Chad McCumbee
John Andretti
Kenny Wallace
2007 Wells Fargo
Marathon
Tire Kingdom
Coke Zero
Goody's Cool Orange
Dodge
Kyle Petty
Chad McCumbee
Terry Labonte
Boris Said
2008 Wells Fargo
Marathon
PVA.org
Garmin GPSStore
Dodge

#46 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Bobby Johns 1960 Petty Enterprises Plymouth

#88/188 History[edit]

Driver Year(s) Sponsor Make
Ralph Earnhardt
Tiny Lund
1957 Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile (ran as #88 for 1 race)
Jim Linke 1958 Petty Enterprises Oldsmobile

[5]

References[edit]

External links[edit]