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Friday, October 9, 2009

Kyle Petty and friends will hit the road for charity this weekend

Charity and Kyle Petty are two things that have gone hand in hand for a long time. While he is a very humble man and shies from taking credit for helping so many people, he clearly has done that more than perhaps any other driver in recent memory.

For the past 15 years, he has been organizing motorcycle rides across America to help various charities. And this weekend, he will hold his latest event with the 7th annual Ride to Victory, which will benefit the Victory Junction camps for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.

This one-day motorcycle ride, scheduled for this Saturday in North Carolina, gives fans the opportunity to ride across North Carolina with Petty and others, and includes a stop at the not-yet-completed NASCAR Hall of Fame site.

“This is a different ride from the big cross-country ride," Petty said when I spoke to him Thursday. "We started it because the Charlotte race is Saturday night. On Sundays we would get up and ride around and see race shops then end up at the camp. This year, we’re going to the NASCAR Hall of Fame site, taking a hard hat tour. Then we’re gonna ride over to camp. In total, it's about 150-200 miles."

Petty has no specific goal for the ride this year as far as how much money he hopes to raise, and said he is grateful for every dollar.

“I’ll say this. The first couple years, we set target goals," Petty said. "But we’ll take however much money people give us.”

The death of Adam Petty, Kyle's son, in 2000 helped spur the Victory Junction camps into existence, as Adam had envisioned such a camp while he was still alive. Carrying on the vision of his late son is part of Kyle's motivation as he continues his charity efforts.

“It adds another layer," he said. "We started the charity ride 15 years ago, and were already going to children’s hospitals. After Adam was killed, what we were doing and his dream was just a natural extension of that."

The event is also in honor of Click Baldwin, a longtime friend of Petty who died in a motorcycle accident last year. Baldwin was a longtime supporter of the camp and a close friend of Petty's for more than two decades.

As far as the future of the Victory Junction camp, Kyle says the sky is the limit.
“We have one camp in North Carolina and broke ground in Kansas City in May on our second.

We hope to have that one up in 2012. This is a process you’re working on your whole life. It’s the fifth year of camp. First year we had 600 kids, this year 3,800.”

Petty said that in addition to helping the camp, the rides offer a lot of new experiences for the fans who take part.

“For us, the core group of about 35, the bond is the motorcycle. Then it became about Adam, and the camp," he said. "For the other people who come and ride, you take them inside Hendrick and Gibbs shops, places they don’t normally go. Through the ride, they get to go places they normaly don’t go. You’re taking them to the Hall of Fame before it’s open. We were on site at some tracks before they even opened.”

Despite being recognized and respected as one of the most charitable in the world of NASCAR, Petty remained humble when I brought this up.

“I really don’t think about it. I was very blessed to drive a race car. That’s something I love to do and still want to do. And at the same time, I’ve been blessed to use that platform to help other people," he said. "It’s not that Kyle Petty has helped anybody. It’s that Kyle Petty has used that platform to ask people, how can you help? My wife runs camp, so she works harder that I do at it. Basically, I became a race car driver because I’m lazy. I’m just the platform, the conduit, to connect the person to the charity.”

Anyone who is still interested in donating or participating in Saturday's ride, Petty said they are welcome to do so.

“If you come to any of the dealerships Saturday, you can still take part, he said.

Riders can join in at various rally points -- including Tilley Harley-Davidson in Statesville, N.C.; Iron Horse Motorcycles in Monroe, N.C.; Harley-Davidson of Charlotte and Carolina Harley-Davidson in Gastonia, N.C. The full group will depart from Carolina Harley-Davidson at 10:30 a.m., making a stop at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. The group will continue on to the Victory Junction camp. Those who participate will receive a commemorative pin, T-shirt and more.

For more information or to pre-register, please visit or call 704-714-4545.

Registration will be available at all rally points the day of the event; however, rider spots are limited and pre-registration is recommended
For more information about the Victory Junction camps, visit


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