Friday, May 27, 2011 08:00
NASCARs have been called “rolling billboards” because of the logos and decals covering almost every square inch of the body. So when a bunch of NASCAR stars takes to the road to raise money for a charity, you’d expect them to drive cars decked out in their racing colors and sponsors’ names, right? Guess again, because starting with the first Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America in 1995, the stars of stock-car racing have parked the four-wheelers and switched to motorcycles for the run.
Since its inception 17 years ago, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America has raised more than $14 million for children's hospitals and the Victory Junction Gang Camp, a camp for chronically ill children in Randleman, North Carolina, that was founded by Petty and his wife Pattie after their son Adam was killed in a crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in 2000.
The ride began in a Waffle House restaurant, where Kyle Petty, Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, and a friend in the TV business were holed up during the blizzard that postponed the 1993 Cup event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. While they waited out the storm, they came up with the idea of taking long motorcycle rides centered around race weekends. They decided to make it a charity ride so their wives couldn’t veto the idea.
This year's ride, which began in Lake Placid, New York, and ended in Amelia Island, Florida, consisted of about 90 motorcycles and a total traveling party of about 200. What started as a way to get some saddle time between races has evolved into a major event. “We stop in these little towns we go through,” Petty says, “we pull into gas stations, and there's 100, 150 people waiting for us.
Check out the website Kyle Petty Charity Ride for more information and loads of photos of the ride.