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Richard Petty reacts to seeing the statue of him and his wife Linda after it was unveiled Saturday at the new Richard Petty Tribute Park in Randleman.   Eric Abernethy / Randolph Hub

A statue for the ages

Janet Imrick
Randolph Hub


RANDLEMAN — The city of Randleman unveiled a sculpture that honors the famous NASCAR racer Richard Petty and his wife Lynda. The statue, made by Ed Walker of Carolina Bronze, now stands on the corner of West Academy Street and West Naomi Street.


Petty’s son, fellow racer Kyle Petty, said it stands across from the former site of Dixie Burger, from where he and his friends would race back to school from after lunch. "If my mom's statue had been there, I would never have done it," he joked.


Petty, his four children and many more grandchildren joined elected officials and Randleman residents for the sculpture's unveiling on Saturday, April 15, at the conclusion of Pettyfest at Level Cross. Mayor Gary Betts proclaimed April 3 Richard Petty Day.


The sculpture was the idea of the late NC Sen. Jerry Tillman and the late Wayne Snyder of Snyder Farms Restaurant and Catering. It depicts a younger Petty holding aloft one of his trophies and hugging Lynda.


Walker, whose studio is at the Lucks Cannery in Seagrove, began the modeling roughly seven years ago, enlarging that from a two-foot model to a six-foot-tall statue.


He said this unveiling made him more nervous than other projects because the subjects of his art were present, but he enjoyed working with the Petty family. "They're incredibly nice people. You would not ever imagine, if you didn't know them by name, that they have the kind of fame and good fortune that they've had. They're just good Randolph County people."


Walker was proud to see Petty kiss the image of his wife at the end of the ceremony. "I knew I'd done it," said Walker.


Petty's daughter Rebecca Petty Moffit, executive director of the Petty Family Foundation, recalled Tillman proposing the statue after her father turned 75. "It means that the community of Randolph County really think a lot of my dad and my mom," she said. "He had the opportunity to travel, do things and experience things that some people will never get to do. But he always loved coming back home."


She said they want to continue their family's legacy and promote Randleman and Randolph County. "We want to keep it relevant, be a place where people want to come."


Before departing for Pettyfest, Petty said, "Racing's given me an opportunity to go to Europe, Asia, Australia, go all over the world. There's never been a place I went where I didn't like something. But I've never been to a place where I like as I'm doing in Randolph County."


He talked about instilling a duty to care for the community in his children. "We've looked at it from a family standpoint, looked at how lucky we are." he said. "The good Lord put all these people together, to make it work for you, then he expects you to give back."


The Petty Family Foundation supports student scholarships, veteran organizations and the Victory Junction camp for children with serious medical conditions.


Lynda Petty served in many areas, including on the boards for Randolph County Schools and Randolph County Hospice. The Pettys were married for more than 50 years until her death in 2014.


Richard "The King" Petty is one of the most recognizable names in NASCAR. From 1958 to 1992, he won a record-setting seven NASCAR Cup Championships and 200 wins. The Petty Museum draws people from around the world.


Petty will be one of the grand marshals at a historic race on May 21, at the North Wilkesboro Speedway. It's the first NASCAR race there since 1996.


"We always like to go there," he said. "Really glad to come back. And I don't think it'll ever be put back on the circuit. But, you know, once a year, once every three or four years. It's just good for North Carolina and the county. And it's good for racing because it breaks the monotony of a mile-and-a-half racetrack."