A winning effort comes up short… momentarily
Richard Petty has been so successful in NASCAR racing that he is known as “King Richard.” But he has never let his talent go to his head. In 1958, in a race at Lakewood Fairgrounds Speedway in Atlanta, GA, he got his first trophy. Ed Bernd Jr. was there to see it.
Lakewood Speedway was a 1-mile dirt track, around a lake. The race was 150 laps – 150 miles of racing. At the end, the checkered flag was thrown for Richard’s Oldsmobile convertible. Ed watched as Richard sat atop the roll bars and posed for photographers while the trophy girl gave him his first trophy.
The next morning in the newspaper, Ed read the rest of the story:
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After the photographers were gone and most of the crowd had left, Richard’s father, stock car racing pioneer Lee Petty, came over and said, “I’m sorry to have to tell you this, son, but you didn’t win the race.” Richard’s reaction: “Oh, okay. Who did?” Lee said that he had finished ahead of his son. The old pro – who was the first-ever Daytona 500 winner and is still ranked tenth on the NASCAR all-time winners list with 54 victories and three NASCAR Championships – had a counter on his dashboard. When the scorekeepers recounted the laps, they verified that Lee had, indeed, won the race.
“I know you want a victory,” Lee is reported to have said to his son, “but I know you want it to be a real victory.”
Richard shrugged it off with the big infectious grin he still has 50 years later, and then went on to win a record 200 NASCAR Cup races and seven season championships.
When Richard was inducted into the new NASCAR Hall of Fame, he noted that the records he broke – most wins, most championships – were his father’s records. Richard was one of the 5 drivers inducted into the Hall of Fame the year it opened. His father Lee was inducted the next year.
The story of that race is depicted in the 1972 movie 43: The Richard Petty Story. Richard plays himself in the movie, and Darren McGavin plays his father. They portray it just the way Ed remembers it, except for some reason, they have it happening on a different race track.
Athletes who inspire us with their honesty and effort Every sport has these examples of clean competition and fair play. In 1935, Chicago University halfback Jay Berwanger won the very first Heisman Trophy, presented each year to the outstanding college football player. He confirmed a story about an incident that took place during one game.
Berwanger had made a long run down the sidelines. An official was following him and thought that Berwanger might have stepped out of bounds during the run but was not sure. So he asked Berwanger if he had gone out of bounds.
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