NASCAR world mourns Lynda Petty’s passing
Stock-car racing bid farewell to a legend on Tuesday.
Lynda Petty, wife of seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty, died at the family’s home in Level Cross.
She was 72.
“We wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported us and our family throughout the years and at this time,” the Petty family said in a statement. “We will forever love and miss a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend.”
NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France expressed the sanctioning body’s sympathy.
“On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer sincere condolences to the Petty Family regarding the loss of their beloved matriarch, Lynda Petty,” France said. “Through the years, Lynda became an integral part of the NASCAR family. We have lost a true friend, who will be missed each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the Pettys throughout this difficult time.”
NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelley said in a statement: “On behalf of the entire NASCAR Hall of Fame team, I would like to offer our most sincere condolences to Richard, Kyle, Sharon, Lisa, Rebecca and the entire Petty family on the passing of Lynda Petty. Lynda was such an incredible person in so very many ways, far too numerous to count. In addition to being a devoted wife to Richard and an incredible mother and grandmother, she was a tireless worker for the causes that benefited others—such as helping start the Winston Cup Racing Wives Auxiliary, serving on as a member of the Randolph County School Board for 16 years and as chair for eight years and on numerous other boards and volunteer capacities. She always met everyone with her big smile and warm, welcoming personality and charm. Lynda will be dearly missed but her legacy and impact on so many will live on forever.”
Lynda Petty underwent treatment in 2010 for a brain tumor and Central Nervous System Lymphoma. Although she was eventually declared cancer free, health issues including mini strokes stemming from the treatment greatly reduced her physical activities in recent years.
The former Lynda Owens and NASCAR’s all-time winningest driver were high school sweethearts, eventually marrying in 1958 just as Richard Petty’s racing career got underway. She was 17 and still in high school; he was 21 and worked alongside his father, Lee, and brother, Maurice, in what was to become Petty Enterprises.
With her husband competing in as many as 40 or more races a year across the country, and women restricted from being in the NASCAR garage at the time, Lynda Petty remained home to run the Petty household, which eventually grew to include four children — son Kyle Petty and daughters Sharon (Petty) Farlow, Lisa (Petty) Luck and Rebecca (Petty) Moffit.
Eventually, the family did travel to races, and the familiar blue station wagon in which numerous meals were eaten at the track still sits parked in the Petty compound.
In later years, Lynda Petty helped found the Racing Wives Auxiliary. Now known as the Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports, Inc. its mission is to “enrich the lives of women, children and families through educational and wellness programs.”
Lynda Petty served on the Randolph County School board for 16 years and was on the board of the Hospice of Randolph County.
“It was no secret that she was the cornerstone of the Petty family; a woman of humility and extraordinary strength,” said Austin Petty, Lynda and Richard’s grandson and chief operating officer of Victory Junction, a camp for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. “While we mourn her death, we also celebrate her life and the profound impact she had on those who knew her.”
A private memorial service for family and friends will be held at Reverie Place in Randleman. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the following:
Petty Family Foundation
311 Branson Mill Road
Randleman, N.C. 27317