- July 10, 1980
- May 12, 2000
- United States
- Not Active
Adam Petty (1980 - 2000) was an American racing driver, a fourth-generation racer in the famous racing family after his great-grandfather Lee Petty, grandfather Richard Petty and father Kyle Petty. Unfortunately, Adam's career and life ended prematurely in a crash during a practice session for NASCAR race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on May 12, 2000.
Before his death, Adam Petty recorded 46 starts in all three NASCAR national divisions, driving mostly for a family team Petty Enterprises. He made 43 starts in the NASCAR Busch Series, two starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and one start in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series.
Born in July 1980 in Trenton, New Jersey, and raised in High Point, North Carolina, Adam Kyler Petty was predetermined to become a race car driver. What else could be expected of a youngster who was a great-grandchild of the NASCAR pioneer Lee Petty, a grandchild of the seven-time champion Richard 'The King' Petty and a son of the Cup Series race winner Kyle Petty?
Adam Petty started his professional career in 1998, participating in the ASA National Tour and making a debut in the ARCA Racing Series shortly after his 18th birthday. On September 30, driving the #45 Pontiac for Petty Enterprises, he won his first ever ARCA race, the EasyCare Certified 100 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Two weeks later, he crashed out in the next ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway.
In October 1998, Adam Petty made his NASCAR national debut in the Busch Series race at the Gateway International Raceway. He completed 198 laps in Ted Geschickter's #22 Chevrolet, finishing in the 27th place.
Until the end of the season, he recorded two more starts in the #22 Chevrolet, not finishing the race at North Carolina Speedway and finishing 27th at Miami-Homestead.
Adam moved to Petty Enterprises' #45 Chevrolet in 1999 to drive a full season in the NASCAR Busch Series. He finished sixth in his first race at Daytona International Speedway. Later during the season, he failed to qualify for three races and recorded three more top-five results. His best result was the fourth place at California Speedway. He ended a season 20th in the points.
In 1999, he also made two starts in the NASCAR Truck Series with Petty Enterprises' #34 Dodge, finishing 10th at Richmond Raceway and 16th at Texas Motor Speedway.
In 2000, Adam continued to drive the #45 Chevrolet on a full-time schedule in the NASCAR Busch Series. In eleven races until May 5, he scored no top ten results, finishing best in 12th place at Talladega.
In the meantime, on April 2, he made a NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut in Petty Enterprises' #45 Chevrolet, sponsored by Sprint. He raced at DirecTV 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. An engine failure stopped him after 215 laps and he was classified 40th.
And then, on May 12, during a practice session for the Busch Series race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Petty lost a life in a crash caused by a stuck throttle. He was killed instantly after he hit a wall at turn 3, suffering a basilar skull fracture.
Petty's death, along with Kenny Irwin Jr.'s death in the same corner eight weeks later, led NASCAR to mandate the use of a kill switch on the steering wheel and the adoption of the restrictor plate for the September Cup race.
In October 2000, five months after Adam Petty'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.
Many NASCAR drivers, teams, and sponsors, including Cup Series sponsor Sprint, supported the camp. A replica of Petty's 1998 car was placed in the camp. The camp began operation in 2004 and is an official charity of NASCAR.
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