The Staff of The News 

Charity riders to drop in


May 1, 2019

Courtesy photo

Kyle Petty's annual charity ride will make a stop Tuesday in Clovis. The estimated 250 riders will be at High Plains Harley Davidson at 12:15 p.m. to socialize and solicit donations to go toward Petty's free camp for children ages 6 to 16 with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses.

CLOVIS - Kyle Petty's been through Clovis plenty of times, but usually for just a quick stop while on the way to Phoenix.

The former NASCAR driver plans to be a little more social for his upcoming visit to the community. The city has been chosen as a lunch site on his annual charity ride.

The Kyle Petty Charity Ride, now in its 25th year, primarily raises money for the Victory Junction camp that operates at no charge for children ages 6 to 16 with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. The camp was established in 2004 in memory of Kyle's son, Adam, who died in a 2000 accident during practice laps before that year's Busch 200.

The ride has raised more than $18.5 million for the camp and other children's charities, with more than 8,400 riders logging 12 million miles. This year's ride is the most ambitious, with 3,700 miles planned.

This year's ride starts Friday in Seattle and ends May 11 in Key Largo, Florida. The 250 riders will cover 11 states in those nine days, and plan to stop for lunch at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday at Clovis' High Plains Harley Davidson to greet residents and sell merchandise and solicit donations.

Petty contacted The News in the days leading up to the ride:

What should people in the area expect when you make your stop?

I would like to say a good time. We're coming to the store at 12:15. We're going to have lunch there. It will be my dad, Herschel Walker, George Rogers, Hershel McGriff, some other old race car drivers. From a racing or football perspective, we're covered pretty well. But overall we just have a bunch of good people. We want people to come out and say hey and just talk a bit.

There were countless ways you could have honored Adam. How did you decide a bike ride to benefit the kids camp was the best way to do it?

We started the ride in 1995, and his accident happened in 2000. We were at a camp called Boggy Creek. They fell under the umbrella of what Paul Newman started.

At some point early on, Adam said, "Why don't we just build a camp?" It kind of fell on deaf ears. After Adam's accident, I just drove some cars with Paul. We talked about it again, and decided, "Let's go to camp." The item presented itself so many times, and you can only ignore it for so long.

How do you decide your route, and why make Clovis a stop?

This year's different. It's our 25th year. We've gone east to west, north to south ... We decided we would do corner to corner. We asked some of our riders where they would like to go to. Some of them mentioned Santa Fe, Glenwood Springs, Pensacola. From there, we connected the dots. When we go from Santa Fe to Childress, we come through Clovis. I've been through there a million times.

Do you have a favorite thing to drive by each time, or every other year?

No. It's different every year. Some of the cities we're going to we've never been. Others, we've been to multiple times. But I say this in every interview. You ride motorcycles and the scenery's incredible. But it's the people you meet you have the memories of. You talk to somebody about the motorcycle he used to have, that stuff.

Has any stop become a can't miss stop because of something that happened the first time you went there?

The only spot that sticks with us to this day is, I think second year, in Glenwood Springs. When we got up, we had no idea about the weather. That was 20-something years ago, we didn't have GPS or weather apps on phones. We never dreamed we'd have to ride in snow. We had to ride in snow for three hours that day. It wasn't terrible driving through it, but there was snow. It sticks with you.

Now a few non sequitur questions. Is it difficult to abide by speed limits in your normal life, or are they just two completely different vehicles and mindsets?

Two totally different mindsets. It's like this: One is defense, and that's on the highway. You always drive defensively on the highway. On the race track, you Katy bar the door and do whatever you can to win the race. It's offense all the time.

What's an accessory in your current vehicle that you wish you had in your NASCAR vehicle?

Air conditioning. Always. Those cars can get to 140 degrees. If it's 80 or 90 outside, it's going to be at least 30 degrees hotter inside.

Strangest thing a fan asked you to autograph?

Prosthetic leg. That's probably the one that caught me off guard the most. I did sign a hairless Chihuahua.

I've read about the lucky charm underwear you wore repeatedly because you won a race, and subsequently ruined due to a bleaching accident. Do you have any other superstitions?

Not anymore. None of them worked. You ever notice you have them while things are working, and then you move on? Through my life, I've worked through all of them.

What's the best postrace meal?

Pizza, always. It's the best for anything, period. Pizza at breakfast, pizza at lunch, pizza at 2 in the morning, pizza after you work out, pizza before you work out. Doesn't make a difference.

- compiled by Kevin Wilson


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