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Lee Petty
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Auto Racer
    (March 14, 1914-April 5, 2000)
    Born in Randleman, North Carolina
    Stock car driver
    Won the inaugural Daytona 500 (1959)
    Three-time NASCAR Champion (1954,1958-59)
    Founded Petty Enterprises (1949)
    Inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame (1990) and NASCAR Hall of Fame (2011)
    Father of Richard Petty
    In his first NASCAR race (June 19, 1949), he flipped and wrecked his car. He later recalled, 'I was just sitting there, thinking about having to go home and explain to my wife where I'd been with the car.'
    He left exposed bolts sticking out of his doors to tear into other cars.
    He once pulled out of a pit stop without noticing Richard was still on the hood, wiping the windshield. He forced Richard to hold on for his life as he raced around the track and back to the pit to drop him off.
    He got the last win of his career by filing a successful protest against the apparent winner -- his son, Richard. (And later said, 'I would have protested even if it was my mother.')
    He was the first NASCAR driver to install roll bars in his car (1953).
    He finished in the top ten an incredible 332 times out of 427 starts.
    His racing career effectively ended after a crash in the 1961 Daytona 500, when his car went over a retaining wall and landed 150 feet away in a parking lot, leaving him with a punctured lung, multiple fractured ribs, a fractured thigh, a broken collar bone, and multiple internal injuries.
    He did appear in six more races after the accident, 'Just to prove I wasn't scared.'
    He was patriarch of the ultimate NASCAR dynasty.
    His record of 54 NASCAR wins was broken by his son Richard.
    He died three days after his great-grandson Adam Petty became the first fourth-generation NASCAR driver.

Credit: C. Fishel


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