About Lee Arnold Petty
Lee Arnold Petty was born March 14, 1914 near Randleman, North Carolina to Judson Ellsworth Petty and Jessie Maude Bell. Lee was an American stock car driver from 1949 until 1964. He was one of the pioneers of NASCAR, and one of its first superstars. He married Elizabeth Toomes. Together they had the following children:
- Richard Lee Petty b. July 2, 1937 m. Lynda
- Maurice Petty
Lee died at 4:50 a.m. on April 5, 2000 at Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, North Carolina, at the age of 86, several weeks after undergoing surgery for a stomach aneurysm. He is buried at the Level Cross United Methodist Church Cemetery in Randleman, North Carolina.
Lee Arnold Petty was thirty-five years old before he began racing. He began his NASCAR career at NASCAR's first race at Charlotte Speedway (not to be mistaken with Charlotte Motor Speedway). He finished in the Top 5 in season points for NASCAR's first eleven seasons. He won the NASCAR Championship on three occasions and the inaugural Daytona 500 in 1959. With 54 wins, Lee had won more races than any other driver up until the time his own son, Richard, caught up and passed him. Lee, with his sons, Richard and Maurice Petty, founded Petty Enterprises, which became NASCAR's most successful racing team.
1959 Daytona 500
In the first race at Daytona International Speedway, Petty battled with Johnny Beauchamp during the final laps of the race. Petty, Beauchamp, and Joe Weatherly drove side by side by side across the finish line at the final lap for a photo finish. Petty drove a 1959 Oldsmobile Dynamic 88 (#42), Beauchamp a 1959 Ford Thunderbird (#73) and Weatherly a 1959 Chevrolet (#48), all coupés. Beauchamp was declared the unofficial winner, and he drove to victory lane. Petty protested the results, saying "I had Beauchamp by a good two feet. In my own mind, I know I won." It took NASCAR founder, Bill France, Sr., three days to decide the winner. In the end, with the help of the national newsreel, Petty was officially declared the winner. Son Richard drove a 1957 Oldsmobile convertible (#43) and finished 57th out of 59 starters having blown the engine after eight laps.
- In 1990, Lee Petty was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
- He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996.
- He was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
- He was selected as one of Nascar's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998 along with his son, Richard Petty.
- He was inducted to the NASCAR Hall of Fame May 23, 2011.
- Petty Enterprises 1949–1964
- Gary Drake 1954
- Carl Krueger 1955
Lee Petty's Timeline
March 14, 1914
July 2, 1937
Level Cross, NC, USA
April 5, 2000
Greensboro, Guilford, NC, USA
Randleman, Randolph, NC, USA