A North Carolina local and a superhero of stock car racing, Richard Petty is a driver who had at least a few obstacles thrown his way during the 1970s. One of these was his relationship with Chrysler, which threatened to be severed during the last part of the ’71 NASCAR season as the corporation announced that they would no longer be offering the Petty’s direct factory funding.
But in spite of this financial blunder, Chrysler was the nameplate that would take Petty to many a victory during the ’60s and the ’70s; during the 1964 season, Petty won his first Daytona 500 when he led 184 of the race’s 200 laps in a HEMI-powered Plymouth, and in February of ’71 he beat teammate Buddy Baker in a new Road Runner to win his third Daytona event.
One of the worst setbacks to Petty’s career happened during the 1965 season, during a short span in drag racing which Petty competed in during Chrysler’s boycott of NASCAR, following a ban by the sanctioning body of the HEMI engine.
Petty crashed a car on February 28th of that year at Dallas, Georgia’s Southeastern Dragway, killing a 6-year-old boy and injuring seven others. The accident also resulted in Petty, his father Lee, and Chrysler getting wrapped in more than $1 million in lawsuits.
Our featured video is of Petty crashing a stock car during what has to be one of the worst highlights of his racing career, in 1970 at South Carolina’s own Darlington Raceway. The event in question was the Rebel 400 where Petty suffered one of the worst crashes in his career, ironically suffering no more than a dislocated shoulder as his most severe injury.
Petty’s wife, Lynda recalls her immediate response to Richard’s mishap, “I jumped off the scorestand and started running as fast as I could,” she recalls of the horrific motoring event. It was one of Petty’s scariest moments, but it apparently never stopped him from becoming a NASCAR icon.
Would Petty’s crash at Darlington change your mind about considering NASCAR as a career venue?!