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Richard Petty: 200 not out!

Submitted by on September 10, 2009

NASCAR fans will relish this trio of STP-produced films celebrating Richard Petty’s 200th top-class victory at Daytona in 1984. The US oil giant made the films to commemorate the silver anniversary of The King’s achievement – a record that is unlikely to ever be broken.

On American Independence day – July 4 – in 1984, NASCAR’s greatest ever driver, Richard Petty, came to the legendary Daytona Speedway, birthplace of the US stockcar racing phenomenon. He had racked up his 199th series win at Dover Downs that May, but the Firecracker 400 felt like the right place to rack up the double ton in the famous #43 STP Pontiac. Particularly as US President Ronald Reagan had flown in aboard Air Force 1 to witness the spectacle surrounding the 47-year-old sporting superstar.

After a spellbinding, door-banging scrap between Petty, who’d qualified sixth, and fellow top names Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt, Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Bobby Allison and Harry Gant, the 160-lap race finished under caution with the red and blue Pontiac Grand Prix taking victory from Gant’s Skoal Bandit Chevrolet Monte Carlo by about a foot.

Cue frenzied celebrations from the Petty clan and the 80,000 trackside fans. Recent interviews with Petty and his long-standing crew chief and cousin Dale Inman complement the high-quality footage.

The final film follows The King on his silver anniversary appearance at Daytona for the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup round, 25 years to the day since that memorable Firecracker win. After doing a pace-lap ahead of the main event in the ’84 race car, in its original livery, Petty assumes his regular role as boss of his eponymous Richard Petty Motorsports team – one of the top teams in modern-day NASCAR. The King witnesses Elliott Sadler, one of his four drivers, taking 10th place.

It seems Richard Petty, who racked up 1,184 starts over 35 years in the premier category, won 200 times for all the great stockcar manufacturers: Plymouth, Ford, Dodge, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, Buick and Pontiac, led over 52,000 laps and amassed over $8million dollars in prize money, simply can’t let go.

Henry Hope-Frost

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