Formula One
 Sunday, May 14
Petty family suffers another tragic loss
 Associated Press

LOUDON, N.H. -- NASCAR's most famous driving family has lost its youngest star.

Adam Petty, stock car racing's first fourth-generation driver, died after a crash during practice Friday, five weeks after the family buried patriarch Lee Petty, his great grandfather.

Adam Petty
Emergency crews at New Hampshire International Speedway work to remove Adam Petty from his car after he hit the wall during practice Friday.

The 19-year-old driver appeared to brush the wall in Turn 3 before spinning out and smashing sideways into the concrete as he prepared for qualifying for Saturday's Busch 200 on the 1.058-mile New Hampshire International Speedway oval.

The red-and-blue No. 45 Sprint PCS Chevrolet, which had been traveling at close to 130 mph, did not catch fire, but Petty was trapped inside for about 20 minutes before rescue workers cut through the roof to free him.

He was taken to Concord Hospital, where he died of head trauma, spokeswoman Jennifer Dearborn said.

A yellow tarp was draped over the car as it was taken off the track on a flatbed truck.

"I knew it was a hard hit," said spectator David Henderson, who was at a nearby concession stand. "At first, everybody thought it was just a crash. Then it was like the whole place went silent."

Another fan, Andrew Watson, had tears in his eyes after learning the crash was fatal.

"There's no way this was his fault," said Watson, who said he knew Petty. "He was a nice guy, a real nice guy. He was just following in his family's footsteps."

Friday, May 12
All Adam Petty thought about was racing cars. I talked with his mother Patty a couple of years ago when Adam was 16 and, believe it or not, Adam Petty used to be a little overweight. A lot heavier than he is now.

Someone back then told Adam that today's race car driver needs to be skinny, needs to be light. So what did Adam do? He went out and lost about 50 pounds. I can't even lose five pounds. Can you imagine some kid wanting to drive race cars so badly that he goes out and loses 50 pounds? That's how badly Adam Petty wanted to be a race car driver.

But Adam always had that famous Petty smile. And he was always in the garage area talking with people, trying to find out all he could about auto racing, all the things he needed to know. Why? Because this was what he was going to do the rest of his life.

Last year after Adam Petty finished fourth in California, I walked out of that track thinking, "Wow, this kid really has some talent." Because in his rookie year, he ran the California Speedway like a veteran. Now this year, he struggled a little bit. We didn't see the Adam Petty everyone knew we'd see in the future.

Friday in Memphis at about 2 or 3 p.m., news hit this race track about what had happened in Loudon, N.H. Everyone just sort of started staring into space with their own thoughts on Richard, Kyle, Linda, Patty and the rest of the Pettys. There was very little conversation around the track. Mostly just disbelief.

Lee Petty, one of the pioneers of NASCAR, died April 5 at age 86 from complications of a stomach aneurysm several weeks after surgery. Adam Petty had made his Winston Cup debut just three days earlier in Fort Worth, Texas, finishing 40th.

Adam Petty is the grandson of seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty and the son of Kyle Petty, a regular on the Winston Cup circuit.

"That's two big losses in the last month for that family," said driver Randy Lajoie. "We know when we leave pit row we may not come back. I thank God every night I'm alive. Tonight, I'll thank him twice."

NASCAR president Bill France said the organization was praying for the Petty family.

"It is difficult to express our sadness over the passing of Adam Petty," NASCAR president Bill France said. "The Pettys are an integral part of the sport of NASCAR. The entire NASCAR community will miss Adam Petty."

In the Petty family hometown of Level Cross, N.C., state and American flags were lowered to half staff. Adam's father, Kyle, was out of the country on a personal trip, and the rest of the family was gathering in a private place, according to a statement from Petty Enterprises.

"I know his family has a strong faith, and I'm with them right now," driver Tim Fedewa said, his voice quavering with emotion as he spoke to reporters at the Loudon speedway.

Adam Petty's death was the first on-track fatality in NASCAR since John Nemechek was killed in a Craftsman Truck race in Homestead, Fla., in 1997.

The last death in Busch competition was that of Clifford Allison, the son of another NASCAR Hall of Famer, Bobby Allison. Clifford Allison was killed during practice for a race in Brooklyn, Mich., in 1992.

Lee Petty won 55 races, still seventh-best in NASCAR history, and three Grand National -- now Winston Cup -- championships. In 1959, he become the photo-finish winner of the first Daytona 500.

His son Richard became the king of stock car racing with a record 200 victories and seven championships.

Richard's son, Kyle, is in his 20th year as a Winston Cup regular, and has taken over the day-to-day business of running the family's team.

Adam Petty's entry into racing made the Petty Enterprises team the first with four generations of NASCAR drivers.

It was his second season as a Busch Series regular and he planned to drive in five Winston Cup races this season in preparation for a shot at the rookie title in 2001.

He was 20th last year in the Grand National points race and third in the rookie-of-the-year standings, finishing a career-best fourth in Fontana, Calif., in May.

He had planned to drive full time next year on the Winston Cup circuit in one of the new Petty Enterprises' Dodges as a teammate of his father and John Andretti.

Adam Petty first got serious notice in racing in September 1998 when he won the ARCA race in Charlotte, N.C., at age 18, becoming the youngest driver to win a race in that series. He also ran the full American Speed Association season that year.

In 1999, Kyle Petty was asked about his son's decision to join the family racing tradition.

"I think it's like any parent when your 16-year old leaves the driveway for the first time. It's like, 'Ugh, are they gonna make it back?"' he said.

Besides his grandfather and father, Adam Petty is survived by his mother, Pattie; his grandmother, Lynda; and his great-grandmother, Elizabeth.

Petty's death was one of several involving NASCAR drivers in the last eight years. Clifford Allison's older brother, Davey, a Winston Cup star, was killed in a helicopter crash at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. A few months earlier, 1992 series champion Alan Kulwicki died in a plane crash in Tennessee.

Winston Cup Drivers Neil Bonnett and Rodney Orr were killed after crashing before the Daytona 500 in 1994.

Family plans private service for Adam Petty

Weber: A loss beyond the track

Petty family goes from glory to tragedy

Grief evident in Petty's hometown

Fedewa wins somber Busch 200

Stock-car pioneer Lee Petty dies at age 86

Team Petty carries on

 RPM 2Night takes a look at the all too brief career of Adam Petty.
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 Petty's death still hasn't sunken in yet for fellow driver Kevin Grubb.
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 Steve Park says it is a sheer tragedy to lose a young racer at the start of his career.
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 Todd Bodine says Adam's death will be a loss for mankind.
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 Despite a good run, Buckshot Jones' thoughts are with the Petty family.
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 Chad Chaffin on the importance of family.
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 Drivers realize the danger every time out on the track, according to Jason Keller.
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 Lyndon Amick says some things go beyond racing when tragedy strikes.
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 Jason Schuler says the car could only be built so safe.
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 David Green says the sport of auto racing will miss Adam Petty.
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