‘First Lady of NASCAR’ Lynda Petty dead at 72

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The flag outside Richard Petty Motorsports on March 25 (WGHP)

RANDLEMAN, N.C. — Lynda Gayle Owens Petty, the wife of Richard Petty, died at her home in Level Cross on Tuesday.

She was 72.

Lynda was surrounded by her family and passed away “peacefully” after her battle with cancer, the family said in a statement.

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

Victory Junction’s COO, Austin Petty, also released a statement on the passing of his grandmother.

“We have lost my grandmother, but my family and our Victory Junction family are grateful to have had her love and wisdom for so many years. It was no secret that she was the cornerstone of the Petty family; a woman of humility and extraordinary strength. While we mourn her death, we also celebrate her life and the profound impact she had on those who knew her.”

Richard married “Mrs. Lynda” in 1958 when she was 17-years-old. Richard was 21. The two met in high school.

The couple eloped in South Carolina and kept it a secret, waiting until Richard could afford an engagement ring.

“I brought her home, dumped her out in the middle of town, she went into her house and I went home,” Petty told FOX Sports. “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.”

Credit: WGHP

Credit: WGHP

As Petty’s stock car kingdom was growing, Lynda ruled at home, and disciplining their four children rested solely on her shoulders.

“I was the one, and you can ask them … you’d ask Kyle, ‘Did your daddy ever whip you?’ and he’d say, ‘No, but my mother wailed the daylights out of me.,’” Lynda said in a 2009 interview. “I disciplined and I never even bothered Richard with it. I didn’t want to put the fear of God in him that he was going to beat his children to death for doing something, so I took care of them and they loved him to death and still do.”

Over the past few years, the couple lived in Randleman where they operated Richard Petty Motorsports.

Credit: WGHP

Credit: WGHP

The Richard Petty Museum was started in the race shop in 1988 by Lynda, but it was moved to nearby Randleman in 2003 because of space demands as the racing operation expanded. Last November, it was announced the museum would be relocated to Level Cross at the site of the original Petty Engineering and Petty Enterprises shops.

Lynda is preceded by grandson Adam K. Petty and is survived by her loving husband Richard; son, Kyle and daughters Sharon and husband Terry Farlow; Lisa and husband Charlie Luck; Rebecca and husband Brian Moffitt. In addition, she is survived by grandchildren Austin Petty and wife Sarah; Hannah and husband Brad Leonard; Montgomery and husband Randy Schlappi; Maggie and Kyle Farlow; Richard, Sarah and Margaret Luck; Helen, Thad and Harrison Moffitt, and great grandchildren Sullivan Mae Schlappi and Adam Christopher Stonewall Petty.

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 following:

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

Richard and Lynda Petty were featured in this 2012 Duke Cancer Institute video where Lynda talked about her battle with cancer: