Ok, first off, I’m going to have to ask you not to judge. There are certain things that happened in my childhood that have shaped my interests and worldview. I was raised in Kenly, NC, a small, rural community in Johnston County where there were few outlets for entertainment and culture. Although only 45 minutes away from Raleigh where shopping and diversions were aplenty, we very rarely visited, typically only making the trip when attending the North Carolina State Fair.
That being said, sports (both participating and as spectators) were our pastime. I spent my summer days on the ball field, wintry weekends cheering on the Redskins and Carolina Basketball, and Sunday afternoons watching NASCAR races. At age five, I chose my favorite race car driver based on…what else? - the fact that his sponsor was Mello Yello.
Kyle Petty was cool! He had long hair, an earring, his dad was Richard Petty (The KING of NASCAR!), and his car’s sponsor was my favorite drink. He also won races from time to time.
NASCAR fans LOVE their collectibles and I was no different. I soon began amassing all kinds of Kyle Petty memorabilia: toy cars, posters, t-shirts, stickers, trading cards, buttons, stickers, hats…the list goes on. The replica cars are of what I have the most; a variety of cars are from the different sponsors he has had over the years, including Peak Antifreeze, Mello Yello, Coors Light, Hot Wheels, Sprint, and Brawny. I even have the Mello Yello car of his replacement driver when Petty had to miss several races due to a broken thigh. My favorite item from my collection is a replica Pit Crew Scene that includes a car and the members of the pit crew performing duties like cleaning the window, changing the tires, and refilling the gas tank.
The story of how I came to meet Kyle Petty is more interesting than my collection. Once upon a time, NASCAR held an annual event called the Winston Preview. This event was prior to the start of the season and allowed fans to meet drivers, see the new changes to the cars, and be introduced to new drivers. The Winston Preview was held on a Saturday but to be able to meet select drivers (Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ricky Rudd, etc), fans had to stand in long lines Friday evening to get a chance at the limited number of tickets. Kyle Petty was one of these popular drivers but I didn’t go Friday night; I just conceded that I would meet other drivers and have fun at the event anyway.
As it turned out, however, his tickets weren’t all given out the evening before and I easily got a spot in line to meet him. It was at this time that I became dissapointed that I didn’t have any of his memorabilia for him to sign, to “prove” that I really WAS a fan. The lady in front of me kissed him on the cheek and my friends tried to get me to do the same, but I was too embarrassed.
I guess this isn’t a pointless collection because it means something to me, but I count it because I’m not sure if it would be of much value to anyone else (except, of course, Kyle Petty fans). I’m not a fan at all of NASCAR now; the owners have changed too much about how the races are scored and where the races are held, all in an effort to make more money. Very little is left of what I grew up with and once enjoyed.