By Mitch Traphagen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
SUN CITY CENTER - For NASCAR fans, the name Petty is synonymous with automobile racing. As most race fans also know, the Petty name is closely associated with charitable work off the track. Kyle Petty is continuing the legacy on the track with the Dodge #45 and off the track by trading in four wheels for the two wheels of a motorcycle.
On Nov. 19, Petty and a group of a dozen or so fellow riders pulled off the freeway for a brief stop at the Chevron station in Sun City Center. It was a rainy day for a ride but the group was not just out for fun - they were on a mission.
Petty’s stop in Sun City Center was part of the Key Lime Ride II - a benefit to raise money for the Victory Junction Gang Camp. Petty and his wife Pattie founded the camp in 2000 in memory of their son Adam who was killed in a racing accident.
The goal of the camp is to serve children with life-threatening illnesses. When complete, Victory Junction will have more than 36 buildings including a dining hall, gym, pool, theater, therapeutic equestrian center, arts and crafts center, race shop and 16 camper cabins all on a 75 acre site.
The ride kicked off on November 17 following the season ending Winston Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The three-day ride ran down the Florida Keys and back to the Gulf Coast, ending on the east coast of the state.
"The Key Lime Ride is a cool way to cap off the season while raising awareness for Victory Junction," said Petty. "The camp is starting to take shape with virtually every building under construction. We’re hoping to make this ride an annual event and another key fund-raiser for the camp."
The Key Lime Ride is a component of Petty’s annual Charity Ride Across America. This year, more than 200 motorcyclists, including his father, Richard Petty, traveled more than 3,000 miles across the nation to raise money for Victory Junction. Petty’s Charity Ride has raised more than $3 million since 1994.
During his stop in Sun City Center, Petty took the time to chat with visitors, sign autographs and have his photograph taken with everyone from the sheriff’s deputies to the clerks working in the convenience store. It was easy to see why so many fans hold the Petty family in such high regard.
In addition to eight victories, eight poles and 51 top five finishes, Petty has earned national recognition for his charitable work. His awards include the National Motorsports Press Association’s Myers Brothers Award, Winston Cup Illustrated’s Person of the Year and True Value Man of the Year. In 2002, the March of Dimes named Petty its Sportsman of the Year.
For information on the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America call (704) 714-4545. For information on Victory Junction visit www.pettyracing.com or www.victoryjunction.org.
Mitch Traphagen Photos
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