The Kyle Petty Charity Ride returns on April 29 – May 5 as 225 riders travel 1,500 miles and raise money for Victory Junction. The annual event is entering its 27th year, but NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty remains humbled by the continued support from friends and strangers alike.
The KPCR, which began in 1995 with 35 riders, has the sole purpose of raising money for Victory Junction, the camp dedicated to providing life-changing camping experiences for children with chronic and serious medical illnesses.
The riders see amazing sights, but their focus is on supporting these children and continuing the dream of the late Adam Petty. They have achieved this with over $20 million raised, which has provided more than 115,000 camp experiences at no cost to the families.
“It just continues to grow, and you look at it and you think, ‘Man, when is this thing gonna stop growing?’” Petty told Heavy. “But you don’t want it to stop growing because the more it grows, the more kids go to camp. The more kids go to camp, that’s what this thing is all about.
“…It’s very humbling because at any given time, people could have thrown up their hands and said, ‘We’re out. We’re not doing this anymore.’ But instead, you get people that are like, ‘Hey, man, I’m ready to go next year. I’ve never been, but I’m ready to go.’ And there’s still people in our sport and still people that are coming along that want to be a part of it that have talked about it forever.”
This community aspect has led to some participants putting the Kyle Petty Charity Ride on their calendars indefinitely. They have rearranged other events so that they could take part, and they have made it a priority to make a positive impact on the lives of others. When COVID forced the cancellation of events in 2020 and 2021, the participants still made a point to donate money.
The Kyle Petty Charity Ride Continues Bringing Special Guests
There have been thousands of participants in the Kyle Petty Charity Ride over the years as they have all banded together to raise money for Victory Junction. They have embraced the community aspect of the ride and created memorable experiences together.
Some of these participants have been special celebrity guests, such as Harry Gant, Donnie Allison, Richard Petty, Ken Schrader, Mike Helton, and Michael Waltrip among many others. NBC Sports play-by-play man Rick Allen, in particular, has been a mainstay on the ride as he has continued to show his support over the years.
“I like to tell him that we brainwashed him early,” Petty said about Allen. “When he came, I mean, honestly, he came and he got it right off the bat. I mean, he understood what the ride was all about. I mean, he understood what we were doing.
“We get to ride and we get to do the things we want to do, but it’s for a much bigger cause. And Rick got that. I’ve worked with Rick, so that made it even more special to be able to work with him on Sunday afternoons on NBC, and then get to ride with him.”
As Petty explained, Allen is a fitting example of how many in the NASCAR industry are genuinely good people that want to give back to the community. He also pointed to Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. as other standout examples from the TV world.
Another special guest, one that will be making his first appearance, is Kenny Wallace. The NASCAR driver-turned-host will make his Kyle Petty Charity Ride debut, and he will likely become the life of the party as he puts his big personality on display and regales the other riders with stories about a variety of subjects.
“Taking Kenny Wallace with us for the first time, I don’t think these people know what’s going to hit them,” Petty said while laughing. “Just to be totally honest with you. I don’t think they have a concept of what’s coming down the pike. So we’re excited about it.”
2023’s Riders Get a Unique NASCAR History Lesson
There are always memorable moments during the Kyle Petty Charity Ride, especially with the varying routes and the people involved. For example, the 2022 ride featured the participants stopping in Monument Valley and seeing firsthand the incredible landscape.
This trend continues in 2023. The ride will start in Salt Lake City for the first time, and it will travel to new and old locations alike. Two, in particular, are places that Petty has circled for their historical relevance.
“We’re going to stop at Bonneville,” Petty said. “I don’t know if a lot of NASCAR fans and a lot of NASCAR people know it, but NASCAR and Bill France Sr. set sanctioned speed records out there long, long, long many years ago. There’s pictures and photos in the archives of NASCAR tents and Bill France and his timing people set up at Bonneville.
“NASCAR has a history and is tied there. At the same time, we have a girl that rides with us, and her name is Jody Perewitz. Her dad is a world-famous bike builder from Boston — his name is Dave Perewitz. An incredible painter and incredible guy.
“And she holds about 16 or 18 land speed records that she set up at Bonneville on motorcycles. So she’s gonna give us the tour. She’s gonna talk us through it and tell us all about it and what it’s like out there when they’re setting records.”
There will also be some historical stops in Nevada. The group will head to Ely, which was founded in the 1800s as a stagecoach stop. They will then head to Tonopah, a gold-mining town on the California-Nevada border. This second stop will include a unique up-close look at history.
“One of the first times I ever went to Ely, Nev., my man Matt Kenseth and I were riding to California to a race,” Petty said. “And we stayed at the hotel in Ely there. And he told me, he said, ‘Man, I’m never traveling with you again, dude.’ And by the time we got to California, it was one of the greatest trips that I’ve ever been on with Matt. We just had a great time.
“I’m looking forward to going back to Ely, and I’m looking forward to going to a little town called Tonopah, which is a gold mining town and a silver mining town right close to the California and Nevada border in western Nevada. We’re taking an extra day there, and we’re going to take side-by-side tours out through the desert to some of the mines and some of the places.
“I’m just looking forward to that. That’s a part of history that — you hear so much about the gold rush in Alaska and all the gold that came out of California and all of that in Nevada. But living on the East Coast, you never got to see that kind of stuff.”