About Adam Kyler Petty
Adam Kyler Petty was born July 10, 1980 to Kyle Eugene Petty and Pattie. Named after Adam Andretti, he was the first fourth-generation driver in NASCAR history. On May 12, 2000, exactly one month and one week after his great-grandfather's death, Petty was killed while practicing his Busch Series car at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire when the throttle of his car stuck and sent him head-on into a wall.
Petty began his career in 1998, shortly after he turned 18. Like his father, Kyle, he won his first ARCA RE/MAX Series start, in the #45 Sprint/Spree Pontiac at Lowe's Motor Speedway in that same year.
Petty drove a #45 Sprint Chevrolet in the Busch Series full-time in 1999 after a successful season in the Midwestern short track American Speed Association season in the #45 Spree Pontiac. He also finished sixth in his first Busch Series race at Daytona and had a best finish of fourth place that year. However, he failed to qualify for three races, and finished 20th overall in points.
Petty Enterprises planned to give Adam a Winston Cup ride in 2001 and to give him seven starts in Cup in 2000, along with a full Busch campaign in a car sponsored by Sprint. He struggled early in the Busch season, but managed to qualify in his first attempt at Winston Cup during the DirecTV 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2. He qualified 33rd and ran in the middle of the pack most of the day before his engine expired, forcing him to finish 40th. Lee Petty, Adam's great-grandfather, and 3-time NASCAR Champion, lived to see his debut, but died just three days afterwards.
After His Death
Adam's death, along with 1998 Winston Cup Rookie of the Year Kenny Irwin, Jr.'s at the same track, led NASCAR to mandate the use of a kill switch on the steering wheel and the adoption of the Whelen Modified Tour restrictor plate for the September Cup race; the plate was abandoned after that race. However, it was not until after the death of Dale Earnhardt Sr., under similar circumstances, that NASCAR mandated head-and-neck restraints.
Adam's father, Kyle Petty, who drove the #44 car at the time of the crash, drove Adam's #45 car in the Busch Series for the remainder of 2000. He then used the #45 in the Sprint Cup series throughout the rest of his driving career. For two years, Kyle did not race at Loudon. He returned in 2002, only to leave again until 2005. His final race at Loudon was in 2007.
Five months after Adam's death, his family partnered with Paul Newman and the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp to begin the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, North Carolina, as a memorial to Adam. The camp has received support from many NASCAR drivers, teams, and sponsors, including Cup Series sponsor Sprint, which has placed a replica of Adam's 1998 car in the camp. The Victory Junction Gang camp began operation in 2004, and is an official charity of NASCAR. Petty also appears as a special guest driver in the video games NASCAR 2000, NASCAR Rumble , NASCAR 2001 and NASCAR Arcade.
A remembrance by Anita Boynton:
Adam ran at a local track in Michigan not long before he died. They hyped it big time...and had a good turnout. He did a pre-race interview, the whole nine yards. About half way through the race, he wrecked, big time, couldn't get the car back out. After the race, this great young man APOLOGIZED to the crowd for not giving them a very good show. He was truly embarrassed that we had come out to see him race and he had not come through for us. It was such a joy to see someone that caring. He would have been a true NASCAR hero in his own right, not just because of his name.