ASHEBORO — Kyle Petty has long been known as part of NASCAR’s first family, but his fans may be excited to hear that the racing legend has a musical side as well.
Petty grew up in Randolph County and went to school at Randleman High School where he played baseball and lacrosse. Even after traveling to some of the biggest cities in America, Petty still believes there is nowhere better to be than North Carolina.
“Being in the business that I am in, we go from Miami to LA to New York to New Hampshire, just all over,” Petty said. “There is not another place on Earth you would rather be than North Carolina.”
Petty found inspiration in country music from a young age. He recalls times growing up when all he can remember is his family listening to the radio.
“When we traveled, all we listened to was music,” Petty said. “When we were at home, even with only two channels, we had a stereo that we would stack about six or seven albums on and just let it play all day.”
Now the third-generation racer is bringing his love for music back to his home state. On Sept. 3, Asheboro will host a free event highlighting the stories and musical interests of the 63-year-old Petty. The community event, the Sunset Series, began in 2018 in Asheboro. Each year, the town congregates to enjoy the show from a prominent speaker or entertainer.
“When I was 12 years old, there was a guy that drove race cars and was also an incredible country artist, Marty Robbins was his name,” Petty said. “Marty would drive cars against my Dad and he would sit around and play. He was one of the first guys that I saw playing guitar in person.”
Petty finds musical inspiration in artists such as Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, James Taylor and Patsy Cline. His personal music stays close to his country roots.
“A lot of kids went off to Kiss and Aerosmith and stuff like that, I stayed in that country, singer/songwriter genre,” Petty said.
Petty’s grandfather Lee and father Richard — known as “The King” of stock car racing — are both in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Petty’s oldest son Adam also followed in the family footsteps but was killed in an accident during practice for a second-tier NASCAR race in 2000 at age 19.
Despite the ups and downs of a life in racing, Kyle Petty still remembers his roots.
“To be able to come back and to do something, anything in that community is special to me,” Petty said. “These are the events that epitomize and really draw attention to the community. That is what Randolph County has always been.”
The event is sponsored by the Heart of North Carolina Visitors Bureau, the City of Asheboro and the Friends of the Randolph County Public Libraries.
“Randolph County is always going to be where my heart is, it’s where I’m from,” Petty said. “You can travel wherever you want to, but home is home.”