Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lynda Petty Dies At Age 72

Lynda Petty, wife of NASCAR Hall Of Famer Richard Petty and matriarch of stock car racing’s most legendary family, has passed away today at the age of 72.

Lynda Owens and Richard Petty were married on July 22, 1958, while she was a 17-year old High School student and he was in the earliest days of his stock car racing career. They eloped to South Carolina and kept their marriage a secret for three months, until Richard could raise enough money to afford a proper wedding ring.
“I brought her home (and) dumped her out in the middle of town,” said Richard Petty in a 2009 SPEED TV interview. “She went into her house and I went home. I took me three or four months to get a diamond for her, and by the time we got the money, I bought a diamond and told everybody we were married.”
As Petty’s driving career flourished, he and his young wife agreed on a division of responsibility that held for the remainder of their lives. Richard ran the race team and Lynda ran the household.
“We sat down and said, ‘This is how it’s going to be,’” recalled Richard. “`I’m going to be gone racing, but I’m going to make the living. You bring the kid (Kyle) and make sure he’s fed. You do your part and pay the bills. I’ll bring the money in and throw it on the table. You take care of everything.’

“That’s the way it worked,” he said. “She had her responsibilities and I had mine.”
Richard and Lynda Petty 
It was a role Lynda willingly accepted, even when required to be the disciplinarian of the family.

“Ask Kyle, ‘Did your daddy ever whip you?’ and he’ll say, ‘No, but my mother wailed the daylights out of me,’” said Lynda in that 2009 interview. “I disciplined (the children) and never even bothered Richard with it. I took care of them and they loved him to death.

“They still do.”

Lynda was diagnosed with a brain tumor and cancer of the central nervous system in 2010, and while she eventually beat the cancer, the treatments took a heavy toll. She suffered numerous small strokes in recent years which severely impacted her mobility, memory and quality of life.

“It was time for me to slow down and start taking care of her,” said Richard Petty in early 2012. “She’s been taking care of me all these years, (and) everyone adapted to make things a little easier for her. It was hard on me and hard on the family, but it was hardest on her.”

Daughter Lisa Petty Luck said her parents maintained a deep bond, even as Lynda’s health failed.

“They’ve always had an ability to communicate,” said Luck. “He still calls her twice a day if he travels, and even though she can’t really remember that he’s called, she always lights up when she hears his voice on the phone. He always says, ‘I love you,’ and she says, ‘I love you too.’

“Even though there isn’t a lot they can communicate about these days, they always tell each other they love each other.”

Lynda Petty leaves her husband of 55 years and four grown children; NASCAR driver-turned television analyst Kyle Petty, Sharon Petty Farlow, Lisa Petty Luck and Rebecca Petty Moffit, in addition to 12 grandchildren.

A private memorial service for family and friends will be held at Reverie Place in Randleman, North Carolina which Pastor Kenny Crosswhite will officiate. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Petty Family Foundation, 311 Branson Mill Road in Randleman, N.C. 27317.  

A public memorial service will not be held and the family asks for privacy at this time. The family offered a  statement to the public, saying, "We wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported us and our family throughout the years and at this time. We will forever love and miss a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend."

Photo Credit: Chris Keane, Petty Images for NASCAR


  1. Anonymous4:28 PM

    oh that breaks my heart...love to all the Petty's...

  2. Praying earnestly for the family of this stalwart woman.

  3. Anonymous4:37 PM

    RIP Lynda Petty. May God Bless.

  4. Anonymous4:38 PM

    I remember her as well as Richard


  5. My deepest condolences to Richard Petty n family...

  6. Anonymous12:11 AM

    My heart breaks for the entire Petty family.Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.God Bless.

  7. Having just lost my mother last month, I can imagine the loss that you are all feeling at this time. May the Lords healing light and love give your entire family the strength to carry on and always remember the good times and the love Mrs. Petty had for her family. Hold your memories of her close to your heart ... My sincerest condolences to the entire family. May the Lord bless you all and keep you strong at this time.