In the world of racing, there is no one more revered than Richard Petty. And, it was 25 years ago this week that The King achieved career victory number 200 at the Firecracker 400 in Daytona Beach, FL.
In 1984, NASCAR had not yet reached the unprecedented levels of fan and sponsor involvement as that of the current decade. Yet, the sport drew a rabid following, particularly in the Southeast, the true home of stock-car racing. As affirmation of the sport’s growing impact, then President Ronald Reagan became the first sitting president to attend a NASCAR race when he showed up at the superspeedway in Daytona.
The ’84 race featured a stirring finish matching Petty with another star driver, Cale Yarborough. Both dueled into turn four and down the stretch, trading paint, sparks flying until Petty nudged ahead to clip Yarborough at the finish. It was The King’s 200th—and final—win in a distinguished and still unmatched racing career. Having Reagan there made it only more special for Petty and his followers.
The famous #43 Dodge, used by Petty in this race, was sent to The Smithsonian and was displayed there until 2001. Most recently, the car was sent to the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman, N.C., adjacent to the original Petty home.
Congratulations to The King on the 25th anniversary of his final victory.