Racing legend Richard Petty to auction off items from collection in Las Vegas

LEVEL CROSS, N.C. -- “It’s amazing the stuff you collect over the years!”

We’ve all said that at one time or another -- perhaps after cleaning out an attic or a closet. But you can only imagine what it’s like if you’re the undisputed “king” of NASCAR.

“I don’t call it a collection,” Richard Petty told me recently during a recent interview in the Richard Petty Museum in Level Cross. “It’s accumulation.”

Statistically, he’s the most accomplished driver in the sport’s history. His record includes 200 career victories, seven Daytona 500 victories and seven NASCAR championships.

He also believes he attended racing events since he was 11 years old. This year, he’ll turn 81. And during all those years, he’s collected a lot of items.

On Saturday May 12, Julien’s Auctions will put 172 of them up for bids at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas. Bidders can make their bids in person, online and on the phone.

Petty says the idea for an auction came from his three daughters.

“They said, ‘Daddy what are you going to do with all this stuff?’” he said. “And my grandkids have been through my accumulation. The kids don’t want it. You don’t want Uncle Sam to come in and charge your kids (with inheritance taxes.)”

The items include trophies, racing suits, artwork, one of his signature hats and even a pair of his boots. But none is getting as much attention as the cars. There are several of them with opening bids ranging from $20,000 to $400,000

Of those, Petty says the 1974 Dodge Charger is the hardest to give up. He won 31 races in it over a period of five years in the mid-1970s, including his fifth Daytona 500.

“That was kind of hard (giving up the Dodge),” he said. “The girls really had to work with me on that particular one.”

There are also some unusual items: a $3,000 check he wrote his wife Lynda (he doesn’t remember what it was for), his elementary school report cards and even locks of his own hair that carry a minimum bid of $800

“I wouldn’t give you 15 cents for it myself,” Petty said laughing.

All funds the auction raises will benefit the Petty Family Foundation and the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

For more information on the auction, including pictures and descriptions of the items, auction items and how/when to bid, click here.