pettykyle

Highway to Heaven

NASCAR great Kyle Petty and his posse trade cars for motorcycles to ride across America in support of sick kids

Michelle Roe Arts & Entertainment 0 Comments

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Kyle Petty will launch his Charity Ride Across America from the Riviera Palm Springs.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF KYLE PETTY

For more than two decades, NASCAR racer Kyle Petty, and an ever-changing, ever-growing team of motorcyclists annually have shared their enthusiasm for the road to raise funds in the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America.  

He says, “There is a group of us who have done it for 22 years … that is amazing in itself. We have a group that’s done it for 15 years and we have new riders every year.”

More than 7,000 riders have participated over the 22 years of the event.

The event takes participants across some of the nation’s most interesting routes to benefit children’s charities and Victory Junction, a camp for kids with chronic medical conditions or serious illness. Located in North Carolina, the camp is near and dear to Petty’s heart: It was established in honor of his son, Adam Petty, who died in a racing accident when he was 19.

The 22nd anniversary ride is set to begin April 30 from the Riviera Palm Springs resort, headed for Biloxi, Mississippi May 6.

Kyle Petty on the event: “I tell people in a lot of ways it’s like we started going to summer camp when we were 8 years old … and we are still going to summer camp years later.”

Along the way, fans can meet and cheer on the riders at fuel stops, purchase memorabilia, and donate to the ride’s “Small Change. Big Impact.” program. Celebrities riding this year include Richard Petty (Kyle’s father), NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time champion; Hershel McGriff, 2016 NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee; Harry Gant and Donnie Allison of NASCAR racing fame; Herschel Walker, former NFL great; retired Lt. Col. Allen West; and Rick Allen and Rutledge Wood, NBC NASCAR personalities.

Petty says that he and many of his riders will be at the Riviera Palm Springs the week before they leave, working on bikes in the parking lot and open to conversation with the public.

In much the way Victory Junction brings kids together to share life-changing experiences, Petty’s cavalcade seems to have fostered the passion to give back and connect. He explains, “We all know each other. It’s a strange thing. I tell people in a lot of ways it’s like we started going to summer camp when we were 8 years old … and we are still going to summer camp years later.  We keep up with conversations, families, children, birthdays. We share a strong bond.”

The caravan expects to arrive in Mississippi May 6.

When Petty, now retired from stock car racing, is not working as an NBC NASCAR analyst, he enjoys being at camp with the kids.

Milestones of The Kyle Petty Ride Across America:

•    7,750 riders
•    11.4 million miles charted
•    $16.5 million raised

Petty on This Year’s Ride:

The  Field: “Two-hundred people, including support vehicles with 125 to 200 bikers from all over the country. We’ll gather in Palm Springs and head out on the 30th with dreams about riding our motorcycles coast to coast.”

Qualifying: “The cost is approximately $8,500 to ride, and that pays for gas, food, hotels … everything to get you across [the] country with [most of the funds] going to the camp.”

The Route: “We try to do something different every year and try to find neat places to go and stop.”

Visit www.kylepettycharityride.com and www.victoryjunction.org for information on Kyle Petty’s Race Across America, Victory Junction, or to support the cause.

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