Lynda Petty died this week at age 72, leaving behind a legacy as the First Lady of NASCAR, using her stature as the wife of Richard Petty to further causes for women and families.
With Lynda’s death this week, NASCAR fans and officials are remembering her for her work within the sport. She founded the Racing Wives Auxiliary, today known as the Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports Inc., which has a mission to “enrich the lives of women, children and families through educational and wellness programs.”
But beyond NASCAR, Lynda Petty was remembered as a loving wife who held the Petty family together while Richard was traveling for faces. The two met when Lynda was 17 and still in high school and Richard was 21 and working with his father Lee and brother Maurice in what would become Petty Enterprises.
Richard Petty has said that it wasn’t always the easiest arrangement, but the couple found a way to make it work.
“We sort of sat down and said, ‘This is how it’s going to be,’ ” Richard Petty said. ” ‘I’m going to go out and I’m going to be gone but I’m going to make the living. You bring the kid. Make sure he’s fed. You do your part and you pay the bills. I’ll bring the money in and throw it on the table. You take care of everything.’ That’s the way it worked. She had her responsibilities and I had mine.”
After Lynda Petty died, a number of NASCAR fans and executives sent messages of support and condolences.
NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France issued a statement on her passin: “On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer sincere condolences to the Petty Family regarding the loss of their beloved matriarch, Lynda Petty. Through the years, Lynda became an integral part of the NASCAR family. We have lost a true friend, who will be missed each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the Pettys throughout this difficult time.”
Lynda’s family remembered her fondly as well.
“It was no secret that she was the cornerstone of the Petty family; a woman of humility and extraordinary strength,” said her grandson, Austin Petty. “While we mourn her death, we also celebrate her life and the profound impact she had on those who knew her.
“The pride she had in her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren was shared with us through her unconditional love.”
Though Lynda Petty died earlier in the week, her passing had an effect on this weekend’s NASCAR events. Aric Almirola crew chief Trent Owens, Lynda’s nephew, missed Sprint Cup practice and Friday’s qualifying at Martinsville Speedway to attend her funeral.