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 > Little League Online > Media > Little League News Archive > 2010 > May - August > Kyle Petty, Former NASCAR Driver and Owner, to be Enshrined in Little League Museum Hall of Excellence

Kyle Petty, Former NASCAR Driver and Owner, to be Enshrined in Little League Museum Hall of Excellence

Kyle Petty, Former NASCAR Driver and Owner, to be Enshrined in Little League Museum Hall of Excellence

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Former NASCAR Driver and Owner Kyle Petty is soon to be Enshrined in Little League Museum Hall of Excellence

The name “Petty” is synonymous with auto racing in America and is arguably the most recognizable name in the sport.

But, Kyle Petty also understands that he would not be in the position he is in without the hard work of other people. He also understands the need to give back to society and how living your life the right way sets a positive example for others.

So it is fitting Little League Baseball and Softball will honor Mr. Petty with enshrinement in the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum’s Hall of Excellence during the 64th Little League Baseball World Series this month in South Williamsport, Pa.

The only way anyone gets to the top of their profession is by expecting excellence. An eight-time winner on the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) circuit, Mr. Petty knows teamwork and sportsmanship, something he got his first taste of in Little League, also factor in a successful operation.

“Mr. Petty learned early, with the help of his parents, Little League would expose him to attributes and lessons he could use the rest of his life,” Stephen D. Keener, President and Chief Executive Officer of Little League Baseball and Softball, said. “Drawing on his experiences in Little League and applying them to his professional and personal life makes Kyle a deserving enshrinee in the Little League Museum Hall of Excellence. Through his many charitable endeavors and the way he conducts his day-to-day life, Kyle is a shining example of the Little League ideals and how a person can make a difference.”

As a talented two-sport athlete in high school and then as a professional race car driver and team owner, Mr. Petty, son of racing legend Richard Petty, a member of the first NASCAR Hall of Fame class, has parlayed past success into his current ventures as a business owner and TV personality.

“At some point, the sport runs out,” Mr. Petty said. “You get to the point where you need something to fall back on. You need the mental and educational power to be the best that you can be. On a bad day, don’t be discouraged by mistakes. That’s what practice is for. ”

As a child, Mr. Petty played Little League Baseball in the Randleman (N.C.) Southern Little League, where he quickly realized that being part of a team was about a lot more than winning and losing.

Little League taught Mr. Petty how to work with the rest of a group toward a common goal, which is the same goal he pursues today – make your team the best. He’s seen first-hand how teamwork and sportsmanship can either make or break an opportunity, or a person.

Even though Mr. Petty left the athletic fields soon after high school and set his sights on the race track, he took his commitment to sportsmanship and teamwork with him. He began his professional racing career in the ARCA RE/MAX Series at age 18, and became the youngest driver to win a major-league stock car race in 1979. Later in the same season he made his Winston Cup Series debut, making five starts for Petty Enterprises.

Mr. Petty became the first third-generation driver to win a series race when he posted his first career Winston Cup victory at Richmond in 1986.

“Compassion and sportsmanship transfer everywhere you go and become a part of your life,” Mr. Petty said. “It becomes part of who you are and everything you do.”

Now, as a parent looking back on his Little League experience, Kyle realizes that being involved in an organized sport gave him a base to build from as he grew up.

“As a kid, everyone wants to be a winner, but everyone doesn’t always win,” Mr. Petty said. “We always told our kids that some days you win, some days you lose. Some days you’re the best and some days you’re not. But, no matter what, be the best that you can be.

“Regardless of the outcome, it’s important to be, not only a gracious winner, but also a gracious loser,” Mr. Petty said. “If you lose, congratulate the other team because they played just as hard as you did.”

Away from the race track, Mr. Petty sees teamwork in a different light through his charity work.

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