Richard Petty, the most decorated driver in the history of NASCAR, will start the August race weekend in Watkins Glen by receiving the Cameron R. Argetsinger Award for Outstanding Contributions to Motorsports, sponsored by the International Motor Racing Research Center.
Petty, who earned a record 200 career races and seven NASCAR Cup championships during his 30-year driving career, will be recognized on Aug. 6 at the IMRRC Award Dinner presented by NASCAR, International Speedway Corp. and Watkins Glen International.
The dinner will be at the Corning (N.Y.) Museum of Glass on the Thursday prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Watkins Glen International, the famed upstate New York road race course.
The award memorializes Cameron R. Argetsinger, founder and organizer of the first races at Watkins Glen. Team owner and former driver Chip Ganassi was the first recipient of the Argetsinger Award in 2014.
“It always makes you feel good to be honored or recognized for your contributions, especially for something you have dedicated so much of your life towards,” Petty said. “You can tell that Cameron also had a passion for road racing and dedicated his time and efforts to making it better for everyone.”
The inaugural race through the streets of Watkins Glen was in 1948. In 1961, Argetsinger organized the first U.S. Grand Prix, and Formula 1 racing began its successful 20-year run at The Glen. NASCAR competed at The Glen in 1957, 1964 and 1965 and annually since 1986.
“You have to figure that racing wasn’t as popular back when I started,” said Petty, who piloted his first race car in July 1958 at the age of 21. “It didn’t matter if it was on an oval, road course or a street course, it was still coming along in America. Today, it’s all popular, and it took a lot of folks working together to make that happen. I appreciate this award and what it means to our sport.”
Petty competed in eight NASCAR races at Watkins Glen, including July 19, 1964, when both he and his father, the legendary Lee Petty, were on the track. It was Lee Petty’s final career race.
“The Cameron Argetsinger Award recognizes Richard Petty not only for his accomplishments as a driver, but also as a team owner and committed philanthropist,” IMRRC President J.C. Argetsinger said. “More than 10 years after his retirement, ‘The King’ is a force that still reigns. We are very pleased that he is accepting this honor from the Racing Research Center.”
The IMRRC Award Dinner is open to the public, but tickets are limited. The ticket price is $250 per person.
NASCAR, the International Speedway Corporation, parent company of Watkins Glen International, and WGI are the dinner’s presenting sponsors.
“When sports fans think of NASCAR, they think of Richard Petty and vice versa,” said Mike Helton, NASCAR vice chairman. “Few competitors in history are as synonymous with their sport as Petty is to NASCAR. Fans love the blue No. 43 car, mustache, cowboy hat and sunglasses, everything about Richard Petty is one of a kind. NASCAR has benefited immensely from the contributions that Richard has provided both inside, his record 200 wins will never be eclipsed, and outside the race car.”
John R. Saunders, president of ISC, described Petty as “racing royalty.”
“Few men could carry the weight of a nickname like the ‘The King,’ but few words could better describe Richard Petty,” Saunders said. “He is, quite simply, racing royalty. As a competitor Richard captivated the attention of legions of fans and his contributions to the sport of NASCAR are immeasurable. Many a driver and track promoter today can attribute the success of their sport to the efforts of Richard during the formative years of NASCAR. On behalf of International Speedway Corporation and race fans worldwide, we congratulate Richard on tonight’s immense honor and wish him all the best.”
Michael P. Printup, president of WGI, knows Petty as a winner.
“There are few thrills greater in my career than having hosted Richard Petty in Victory Lane. While I never had the opportunity while he was a driver, his teams have won at Watkins Glen International numerous times and each seems more special than the last. The joy and exuberance emanating from the drivers for having won one for the ‘The King’ is second to none. The entire team at Watkins Glen International joins me in congratulating Richard on this prestigious evening and we look forward to seeing him in Victory Lane again soon,” Printup said.
Proceeds from the dinner will benefit the IMRRC, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to preserve and share the materials of the history of motorsports, all series and all venues worldwide.
“We are privileged to have NASCAR, ISC and WGI support the IMRRC Award Dinner honoring Richard Petty,” Argetsinger said. “NASCAR and its partners have done a tremendous job in promoting worldwide awareness of the sport we’ve loved for so long.”