Just like the first race I ever saw, only one image has stood out in my mind from this event at Atlanta’s 1.5 mile oval, the final race of the 1992 season and of Richard Petty’s final season. The image, in this case, was a crash at the one-third mark when Petty’s blue and red STP Pontiac slammed into a group of wrecking cars in turn one. As I watched on our upstairs television, the camera peered through the smoke, a small flame appeared as the crumpled front end of Petty’s still-moving car had caught fire, a fire that was eventually extinguished when he drove up to a fire engine stationed near the infield. Thankfully, Petty walked away, waving to the crowd. I was hoping that Richard Petty’s last race would result in a good finish, but it was not to be.
Soon after I finished watching this unfold, I went on a walk with my parents, returning after the race was completed. The next day, in my third-grade class, I was interested to hear about Richard Petty’s last race from a classmate of mine who brought in an article about it for our current events segment. We both knew that the end of Richard Petty’s career was truly history in the making.