Friday, June 13, 2008

Petty Enterprises family team welcomes Boston Ventures to their table

The past few years have been particularly tough for the once indomitable Petty Enterprises. Started by Lee Petty in 1949, the team known as Petty Enterprises today was keenly featured with Lee Petty's 3 championships and 54 feature wins in the Grand National series (since recognized as the Sprint Cup series). While also creating a legend status for himself, Lee Petty would bring his son, Richard Petty into NASCAR through Petty Enterprises. In the 1960s and 1970s, NASCAR was still trying to draw stock car racing out of the shifty jalopy races. The #43 car driven by Richard Petty provided a solid, devoted star needed for the sport. The King won all but 2 of his 200 NASCAR victories driving for his family-owned operation.

This week, Petty Enterprises held a press conference to announce that the family team will now have management partner from outside the family bloodline. Boston Ventures, a private equity company with over 30 years of investing up to 2.4 billion in businesses, has joined Petty Enterprises as a part owner (the exact size is of their investment wasn't disclosed). Richard Petty and son Kyle Petty were present with Boston Ventures representative Andrew C. Davis as well as NASCAR's Brian France addressed the media as a nearly 60-year era of solely Petty family rule ends. As Kyle and Richard now step into other active roles, Petty Enterprises new CEO David Zucker indicates in his words that "My plans are to work with Richard and the Petty management team to build the business, and to leverage Boston Venture’s expertise in areas like marketing relationships and financial management." Hardly the talk of a green roots racing teams in the King's most competitive era, these words do reflect the current climate of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing. Richard Petty was quoted in USA TODAY saying "People bring in billion dollar companies to sponsor their race car, then they go out and get engineers and do all this kind of stuff. That's the reason we were looking for a partner so that we can join in with that crowd and go forward with the technology and outside help that they've already got:".

With no sponsors lined up for next season as yet, this partnership does succeed in bringing some much-needed stability to Petty Enterprises. Earlier this year, driver of the #45 Dodge Kyle Petty had voiced dissatisfaction for the operation. While having an active role in team management since rejoining Petty Enterprises in 1997, Kyle Petty said he could consider looking to drive for other teams. Reaching out as a TV personality for TNT and his very noble work building as well as overseeing the Victory Junction Camp, Kyle Petty might have been seeking an escape from the management role at Petty Enterprises. Also, driver of the #43 Dodge Bobby Labonte made reassuring news at the press conference by announcing that him and Petty Enterprises have reached a contract extension through to 2012.

While the new partnership might bring a tear to the eye of many NASCAR purists will believe that history has taken a right turn into a left hand corner, the Petty Enterprises name may soon be worn by front running race cars again. Many longtime fans surely miss owners Bud Moore and Junie Donlavey being drawn out of a sport where the new NASCAR Cup series superteams now fill the speedway garage lanes. This deal between Petty and Boston Venture should maintain threads between NASCAR's humble past and the multi-billion dollar sporting event the series had evolved to today.

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