A few weeks ago we set out on our annual beach trip with all the usual stops. Tamarack for Fried Green Tomatoes, Johnson’s Peach Stand for Peach Milkshakes and Dumplins, and a stop at the Petty Museum. In the past I had always wanted to stop there but something seemed to always prevent it, fussy kids, traffic, etc, but finally a few years ago we stopped in. We took a little over an hour and walked through the museum and got a glimpse of the speed shop, and grabbed some souvenirs. While checking out I asked the lady working the desk if Mr Petty ever stopped in on weekdays. She told me that he is in at least once each day unless there is an out of town race that week. Well of course there was that particular weekend. I checked the NASCAR schedule last year before we left for vacation and yet another out of town race and traffic was crazy so we didn’t stop.
Well this year as luck would have it, there was not a race! I had tried sending a message via Facebook asking them if they thought he would be stopping by that particular Friday since we would be driving by. I could stop there each year and walk through, my kids on the other hand, really not so much. They only really know “The King” as the voice from “The King” in the Cars movie, not as the hall of fame race car driver. I tried sending a message again and they replied back with “We are not sure what his schedule is today so we can’t guarantee anything. There is always a chance though!” Something about that last line got me a little more excited than usual but I was not getting my hopes up. We neared Randleman, NC and Reg suggested stopping there to stretch our legs and see all of the updates at the museum and garage. We parked and as we were walking across the parking lot I was examining each car parked behind the gates, could one be his, nah I doubt it, it’s a pretty day he’s out doing something else I told myself.
I opened the door to the museum and there he stood! Right at the office door signing papers. I lost my breath, ability to speak, tears began and I got weak in the knees. Heck my whole legs went numb. I have met a few famous people who I have adored, Monica Potter from Parenthood, Katie Lee the Famous Chef, Tony Dungee NFL Coach, Steve Smith NBA Player/Announcer, Jack Hanna and I feel like there is a couple more but I am still so star struck from this I just can’t remember them! Mr Petty turned around with his smile and stuck his hand out to Alee first, then Trey, Reg, then put his arm around me because I was still kind of hyperventilating and crying. He asked where we were from, where were we going and then if we wanted a photo. Ummm of course I (we) would love a photo! lol I had one of the ladies behind the desk lightly crying too. She came out and took a family photo with Reg’s phone for us and then I put my camera on Auto gave it to Reg and hoped for the best! I couldn’t think straight for camera settings! After the photos, he thanked us for stopping by and told us to enjoy the museum. I went to the desk to pay our admission I asked the lady if I made a fool of myself by crying and she said she has seen grown men come in and cry meeting him. I didn’t feel so bad anymore lol.
I still can’t believe this happened! I have wanted to meet him since I was small! First thing after it was over I wanted to call my Dad and there was 0 signal in there! If it weren’t his watching of races every Sunday I wouldn’t know who Richard Petty was. I am not truly sure where my want of meeting him came from other than hearing stories about him and all he has been through. I always thought he reminded me of my papaw too. I think if you put the hat and glasses on my papaw that’s what he would look like. Maybe that is some of it. Mr Petty was as nice, kind and geniune as I imagined he would be. He is what NASCAR used to be, about the fans.
We walked around the different parts of the museum that day and saw all of the changes. They have really updated and added more to the museum since our last stop. We wandered around but not really as long as we have before because I was anxious to leave and get to a phone signal to call my Dad. I bought a shirt and the documentary “Petty Blue” as mementos of the day. Thanked the ladies for the wonderful experience and went on our way. I called my parents and my Dad said the same thing I did, he was the way NASCAR used to be and he appreciated and was about the fans.
Other than the photos of my family and I with Mr Petty, the rest are from our 2014 visit. I was too excited, nervous, shaken on this trip to take any photos. A lot has changed since our last trip. So much more has been added! I encourage you to stop by on your way through. It’s a great piece of history! And you never know who you may run into 😉
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