Monday, November 12, 2007

Petty moving? Another sign of apocalypse

Just when you wondered whether the North Carolina we knew and love would survive the dramatic changes of the 20th Century before the dramatic changes of the 21st swamped us all, comes word that Petty Enterprises is leaving Level Cross.
What next? Will UNC Chapel Hill leave Chapel Hill for Raleigh? The Biltmore House move to Black Mountain? Pinehurst’s Carolina Hotel to Aberdeen?
Yikes! One thing Randolph County could count on for most of the second half of the 20th century was serving as the home of the Petty racing dynasty, founded by Lee Petty, made famous by Richard Petty and his 200 stock car racing wins, and carried on by his son Kyle Petty and the late Adam Petty, the fourth generation Petty racer.
I grew up in Guilford County just to the north and riding down to the Randleman area and the Petty compound, if that’s the right word, at Level Cross was a lot of fun. One summer I worked on a Pepsi truck and we’d fill the Pepsi-blue machines that sure looked like Petty-blue in the big white garage where Maurice Petty was the master mechanic of the Petty kingdom.
Another summer I worked for Bainbridge and Dance Well Drilling Co. near Guilford College, and riding down to Level Cross to fix the Petty pump was a highlight of that summer. (I think it was a bad foot valve on a jet pump, but we might have replaced it with a submersible.)
Now the word is that Petty Enterprises will be moving to Mooresville to join the other major speed shops of the racing world. That’s progress, I suppose, but one thing I always liked about the Pettys was they were just regular folks down home at Level Cross.
They probably still will be, but the idea that Petty Enterprises would move strikes me as about as outlandish a notion as, well, dropping North Wilkesboro Speedway as a site for a major NASCAR race.... Hang on, what’s that? Oh. Never mind.

12 comments:

David McKnight said...

While Richard Petty is in south Iredell County, he could light out on Jim Martin's 1984 gubernatorial trail and run for statewide office. Better yet, if he were to move across the Mecklenburg County line, he could help break Charlotte's long hard-luck streak in statewide races--er, make that political races.

At the very least, having the Hon. Mr. Petty in the regional neighborhood might help Amtrak find a way to get the trains running back and forth between Charlotte and Raleigh to move along at a brisker pace.

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