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Adam's warm presence will be missed

Click here for more on this story

Posted: Saturday May 13, 2000 02:02 PM

By Ryan Smithson,

Analysis & Stories
SI's Mark Bechtel:
Petty had great potential's Donovan: Hitting too close to home's Smithson:
Lost Generation 
Local Look:
He's only 19, remember  
SI Flashbacks
A Bittersweet Debut 
Championship Bloodline 
Reactions: Goodbye, Adam 
10 Questions: From 2/15/00 
Map: New Hampshire International Speedway 
Multimedia Memories: Remembering Adam Petty 
When he started racing Late Model stocks at the Nashville Speedway in the late 1990s, fans from all around would show up on Friday and Saturday nights to watch the latest Petty take the track.

It was a big deal for the local racing fans and media to have a Petty run there.

Earlier this year, when he came to Daytona to race in his second Busch Series race at that track, I had a chance to meet Adam Petty. Adam was the spitting image of his grandfather. I have a book on my coffee table with a lot of old photographs of Richard Petty -- and Adam looked just like his grandfather did when he was in his late teens.

Even at 19, Adam was already well known for his gentlemanly ways. Apparently his father, Kyle, taught him at an early age how a professional driver should act both on and off the track.

When I spoke to him for a 10 Questions feature for, he was smiling and joking, clearly enjoying himself before a practice run.

You could tell Adam's life was devoted to racing. One example of that was that he hung out with his crew even when a lot of the drivers had already left the garage area.

Adam was part of a group of Busch Series drivers who were expected to provide the cornerstone of Winston Cup racing for the next few decades. Young drivers, including Casey Atwood, Hank Parker Jr. and Kevin Grubb, are NASCAR's future. To see one of them pass deprives racing fans of the chance to watch one of the key members of that generation develop.

Ryan Smithson is's motor sports producer.

Related information
Adam Petty killed in practice crash at NHIS
Petty death hits home for Nemechek
Multimedia's Marty Snider thought Adam Petty would have been a bright star in car racing. (186 K)
Snider says Petty was respected by fans and by other racers. (210 K)
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