Richard Petty’s drag racing career lasted for a short period; however, it was enough to get him elected for another racing hall of fame.
Petty already has been immortalized in several halls of fame based on his legendary NASCAR career. On February 18, 2017, he will be inducted into the N.C. Drag Racing Hall of Fame. This ceremony is a part of the 15th annual Shriners Drag Racing & Hot Rod Expo in Greensboro, N.C.
In a talk given to Motorsport, Petty said that“It’s always an honor when someone wants to recognize you for what you have accomplished. Drag racing was not our main deal, but we did it for a few years when we went looking for something to do after the Hemi ban,”.
He further said that“It took just as much effort to go drag racing than anything else we did. It’s nice to be honored for that effort.”
Petty’s brief drag racing career kicked in after NASCAR founder Bill France banned Petty and Chrysler’s 426 Hemi engine in NASCAR’s premier series.
Instead of upgrading the engine, Petty chose not compete in the 1965 NASCAR season. He ended up building a Hemi-powered Barracuda to compete in drag racing. Although, Petty’s drag racing career included mostly exhibition match races throughout the country.
The prototype “Outlaw 43jr” Plymouth Barracuda was buried on Petty’s property after it got involved in a deadly accident at a drag strip near Atlanta. In that mishap, the front suspension broke, throwing the car into a crowd of spectators, killing one child and eight others were injured.
Petty’s drag racing career continued further with a second 43 Jr. Barracuda. The second Barracuda won the B/Altered class at the NHRA Spring nationals at Bristol, International Dragway.
Petty resumed his NASCAR career in 1966 when NASCAR made the Hemi engine legal again. The second Barracuda will be on display at the exhibition.
Furthermore, other 2017 inductees are Frank Teague of Hickory, N.C., Jean Howard of Polkton, N.C., and Terry Adams of Millers Creek, N.C.
Here is a video of Richard Petty with his Plymouth Superbird: