The Pope of American Racing

Pope Richard the First
By Shannon Olexa

As for the reason I painted so many little models blue as a kid…

Forever #43, the King of NASCAR racing, or as I prefer, the Pope of stock car racing will always be Richard Petty. A man’s man of a man’s man such was he.

Sir Richard was my childhood idol of a southern gentle courtier who, as we grew older both, he typified the best of the best in modern matters of engine power and Speed. Utilizing the best wrench-turning on American iron, he and his ‘gents’ or crew (called so by the masses) worked their magic with gasoline and steel to perform TV miracles of determination and death-defiance on never enough given Sundays to boys and girls of every age.

Whether it was grandma complaining about the din of what to us was the ‘music of motors’ or our girlfriends intent on finding a more suitable distraction to this bizarre ritual of seemingly mindless and misdirected worship of a ‘bunch of cars going around in circles’ – we relished every moment. It was, I believe these moments that have arguably made us better men (and women) today as it helped to build a richer life for those of us ‘car crazies’ who knew a true flesh and blood American hero.

Hats off to Pope Richard the First.








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