The death that changed Nascar

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Fifteen years ago one of Nascar’s rising stars was killed when the accelerator of his car got stuck and he crashed into a wall at a racetrack. Adam Petty was 19. His death led to new safety features being fitted in the sport’s cars.

“He was just a kid, full of personality, full of life, always smiling, always joking, always with a big thing of bubble gum in his mouth,” says Kyle Petty, Adam’s father. “He was always blowing bubbles.”

Adam grew up in Level Cross, North Carolina where the family home stood out from the tobacco, dairy and chicken farms. Instead of livestock and tractors the Pettys’ driveway was piled high with car parts.

“Everybody was a farmer,” says Kyle, “we just happened to farm cars.”

Adam spent his childhood on American racetracks. During the summer he lived and breathed racing, touring the US with the family team, Petty Enterprises.

By the time he was seven months old his grandfather was lifting him up on to his shoulders to celebrate race wins and just days before his fourth birthday he was down in the victory lane at Daytona, celebrating his family’s achievements with President Ronald Reagan.

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