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Lynda Petty, wife of NASCAR champion and Hall of Famer Richard Petty, dies at 72

NASCAR Hall of Fame member Richard Petty and his wife Lynda pose for a photo before the 2012 NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 20, 2012 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Lynda Petty, wife of seven-time NASCAR champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty, passed away at the family’s home in Level Cross, N.C., surrounded by family, after a lengthy fight with cancer. Mrs. Petty was 72.

“We wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported us and our family throughout the years and at this time,” the Petty family said in a statement. “We will forever love and miss a wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother and friend.”

Lynda Petty was diagnosed with central nervous system lymphoma in 2010 and underwent treatments at Duke University Medical Center. Although Mrs. Petty had been a cancer survivor, health issues including mini strokes resulting from the treatment, significantly reduced her physical activities in recent years.

Richard Petty and the former Lynda Owens were high-school sweethearts, marrying in 1959, while she was 17 and still in high school, and he was 21, working alongside his father, Lee and brother, Maurice, in what became Petty Enterprises, and now known as Richard Petty Motorsports.

Lynda Petty remained at home, as her husband had gone to compete in 40 or more races across the country a year, to run the Petty household, as women were not allowed in the NASCAR garage at that time. The Petty household grew to include four children one son, Kyle Petty and three daughters, Sharon (Petty) Farlow, Lisa (Petty) Luck, and Rebecca (Petty) Moffit.

The family did eventually travel to races, in a 1969 Ford powder blue station wagon, that is currently parked in the Petty compound.

Lynda Petty was known for her community involvement while raising a family in the sport of stock car racing. She was served on the Randolph County School board for 16 years and was on the board of the Hospice of Randolph County, she was a Red Cross volunteer, the president of the athletic booster club and both a Girl Scout and Boy Scout leader.

Mrs. Petty helped found the Racing Wives Auxiliary, known today as the Women’s Auxiliary of Motorsports, Inc. with its mission to ‘enrich the lives of women, children and families through educational and wellness programs.’

NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France issued the following statement: ‘On behalf of the France Family and everyone at NASCAR, I want to offer sincere condolences to the Petty Family regarding the loss of their beloved matriarch, Lynda Petty. Through the years, Lynda became an integral part of the NASCAR family. We have lost a true friend, who will be missed each and every day. Our thoughts and prayers will be with the Pettys throughout this difficult time.”

A private memorial service for family and friends will be held at Reverie Place in Randleman, N.C. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to the following:

Petty Family Foundation
311 Branson Mill Road
Randleman, N.C. 27317

A public memorial service will not be held and the family asks for privacy at this time.

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