Following Richard Petty Motorsports Sale, NASCAR King Richard Petty Gets New Role

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Photo credit: Chris Unger - Getty Images
Photo credit: Chris Unger - Getty Images
  • Seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty will remain in an administrative role even though he has sold majority interest in Richard Petty Motorsports.

  • There was speculation that Petty, a 200-time race winner and the sport’s most beloved figure, might step away from racing

  • The sale of majority interest of RPM to GMS Racing's Maury Gallagher for an estimated $19 million includes the two charters previously held by RPM.

Apparently, stock car racing icon Richard Petty isn’t going anywhere, after all.

It was announced on Tuesday that the seven-time NASCAR champion will remain in an administrative role even though he has sold majority interest in Richard Petty Motorsports. There was speculation that Petty, a 200-time race winner and the sport’s most beloved figure, might step away from racing after new majority owner Maury Gallagher took over RPM.

Instead, Petty will be chairman of the new Petty GMS Motorsports organization that will field Chevrolets for Ty Dillon in No. 42 and Erik Jones in No. 43. The team will consolidate its resources and compete out of Gallagher’s current complex in Statesville, North Carolina, north of the Charlotte/Mooresville area. Gallagher, a long-time championship-level Camping World Truck Series owner, will continue to field teams in that series.

The sale of RPM to Gallagher for an estimated $19 million includes the two charters previously held by RPM. One was leased to team owner Rick Ware for his No. 51 car; the other was for Jones in Petty’s famous No. 43. The charter that Ware used for his No. 51 car will transfer to Gallagher for Dillon in the No. 42 car.

Photo credit: Grant Halverson - Getty Images
Photo credit: Grant Halverson - Getty Images

That number has a long history with all things Petty. Family patriarch Lee carried it from 1949-1961, winning 54 races and three Cup Series titles before injuries forced him to retire in the early 1960s. His grandson, Kyle, used it in winning eight races from 1979-1982 and 1989-1996. Mike Beam, a crew chief for RPM in 1981-1982, has been named president of Petty GMS Motorsports. Brian Moffitt, one of Richard’s sons-in-law, will be executive vice president of sales.

For about a week it appeared that for the first time in NASCAR’s 72-year history there might not be a Petty as an active participant in some aspect of the sport. That changed when details of the surprise Petty-Gallagher deal were revealed on Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte.

Lee Petty competed in the first Cup Series race at Charlotte in 1949 and raced almost 12 full seasons. His eldest son, Richard, raced 1958-1992 and grew to be the sport’s most important figure. Late in Richard’s career Kyle began racing, winning eight times between his debut in 1979 and his retirement in 2008. His son, Adam, had just embarked on his NASCAR career when he died in a practice session in New Hampshire in 2001.

Photo credit: James Gilbert - Getty Images
Photo credit: James Gilbert - Getty Images

Upon his retirement in 1992, Richard moved full time into team ownership. It was a solo venture for several years, until he joined with Ray Evernham and George Gillett, and later with New York businessman Andrew M. Murstein. It was renamed Richard Petty Motorsports in 2008.

At various times throughout the 1990s-2000’s Petty-affiliated teams have featured Jones, Kyle Petty, both Terry and Bobby Labonte, Christian Fittipaldi, John Andretti, Aric Almirola, Bill Elliott, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Sam Hornish Jr., A.J. Allmendinger, Patrick Carpentier, Elliott Sadler, Bubba Wallace, and Brian Scott. Its last victory was from Almirola, a rain-shortened race in July 2014 in Daytona Beach.

Gallagher, from Las Vegas, came into NASCAR with the Camping World Truck Series in 2013. He’s been full-time, hands-on owner in that series for the past nine years, getting 41 victories from 14 drivers. His GEM team won the 2016 Truck Series title with Johnny Sauter and the 2020 title with Sheldon Creed.

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