Volume III, Issue 7, Page 22

I’m one of you. Long before my first article or big name interview and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a stock car fan. So for that reason, my name doesn’t matter and neither does my photo. It’s more like we’re just sitting here in the grandstand before the race, talking about Dodges and NASCAR. Hey, you want a cold one? --JC

Petty Enterprise$ goes Corporate

he press release said, “Petty Enterprises Announces New Business Structure.” The story said that Petty Enterprises (PE), one of the oldest and most successful teams in NASCAR, fell in step with what we’re seeing in racing today, financial investors buying into teams. Lemme ‘splain. General Jack Roush was the first big team to join up with an investment team. Then, Ray Evernham, the guy that ran the point for Dodge when they got back into NASCAR, sold – are you ready for this?- over half of his team to the Gillette deal. The idea is that a big blast of money allows the team to invest in itself, getting what it needs to win.

But it was the time line of this Petty deal that really woke up us media pukes. It happened like this: When we were out at Petty’s shop in Level Cross in January of ’07, The King and Kyle were both pretty sure they were gonna move on down to Charlotte that year. And they did. Now why did they move? To be more competitive. Fast forward to ’08 and they recently lost their sponsor for the 43 car. It moved on over to the new fourth Childress Chivvie team and Richard Childress tried to get Bobby Labonte to come with ‘em. But Bobby dug in at Petty’s and re-upped for another four. Now comes this news of an investor and it kinda makes sense. I’d better ‘splain that one, too.

Back when the King was kicking everybody’s butt in the 60s thru 80s, racing was a whole different animal. First off, when you went to a race, there were only about six or eight guys that you could count on winning. As far as the actual cars went, it was more about what everyone did to ‘em themselves to make ‘em fast. Yeah, there was factory help but it didn’t come with a whole passel of engineers, computers and all that high tech stuff we got today. The smart guys figured out what would work on their cars and did it. And the cars back then were still built like they looked. That’s saying a Plymouth looked like a Plymouth underneath – even down to the torsion bar suspension when the Fords had coil springs. Then, as street cars became more complicated, so did race cars. When the King was the first cat to win a million in prize money, he said it took three million to win that one million. These days, a million won’t even get you a hauler. Heck, a top line sponsorship brings in 25 mil! And today, there are ‘bout 20 guys that can win on race day. As those years moved on by for PE, they got by on mostly their smarts. Ya know. All those things they learned when the King was winning. The team never did get up to some of the other teams as far as money or engineering. They was running mostly on the historic name of Petty. Yeah, they stepped up their game and got back to winning a race now and then. But they never got to be one of the modern super teams they shoulda been.

So they moved to Charlotte to get in ‘the loop’ and be closer to, well, the money and info you need to win. But here they are in 2008 with nowhere near the results in their sponsor search as those super teams. They went to the next step - that being the investment deal. But PE done more than just sign the title and give ‘em a set of keys. They named David Zucker as the new CEO. And they rolled their cool Richard Petty Driving Experience into the team, too. That way, they can work them both as one business, saving even more money.

So what’s it all mean, Jelly Bean? Well those investment cats are gonna give ‘ol PE a good cash injection and that can help them pony up their game and get back in the ‘W’ column. They can get more people, better parts, motors and cars and most of all, technology and testing. Ya see, up until now, they spent most of their time playing catch up to the rest of the pack. There were no bucks for testing and such. The new money means they can run with the big boys.

The King, now Chairman Emeritus of the deal, said, "The time has come for Petty Enterprises to take the steps necessary to get back to Victory Lane. This is something I have taken a great deal of time to think about and I'm comfortable with the decision I have made and to have Boston Ventures as my partner in Petty Enterprises. Boston Ventures will provide us with the capital necessary to compete for wins and championships. Over the years, many of their investments have been partnerships with family-owned companies. In each of those cases, Boston Ventures has stayed true to the family mission, while improving the overall well-being of the company."  

Kyle saw some benefits, too, "There is no doubt this is an emotional decision for our family, for my dad, my mother, for me, for my sisters, for the grandkids, for all of us. We have labored over this decision for a long time, but it's absolutely the right decision. And not just for our family but for the 152 families that depend on Petty Enterprises. My grandfather founded Petty Enterprises in 1949 and over the years we have won a ton of races (268!) and 10 championships, but most importantly created livelihoods for many families and the investment by Boston Ventures will secure the future of Petty Enterprises for many generations.”

Even the big guy at Dodge, Mike Accavitti, saw the handwritin’ on the wall, “Dodge fully supports Petty Enterprises as they take the steps they feel will put their organization back in the winners circle. 

Winning is still about the Benjamins. And Petty Enterprises is still about family.