Spotlight on Kyle Petty

Jun 22, 2023 at 05:09 pm by Bethany Bowman

Kyle Petty is a former NASCAR driver turned racing analyst who has become one of the most popular personalities in all of sports. As a member of one of NASCAR’s pioneer families, Kyle is as much a product of racing as he is of his famous father, Richard Petty “The King,” and grandfather, Lee Petty. His son Adam Petty also raced, before a tragic racing accident in 2020. While his name will forever connect him to NASCAR, Kyle has made significant strides outside of racing in the world of music and philanthropy.

But what you don’t may not know is that Kyle Petty is an avid songwriter and singer. He gets the storytelling side of writing songs as good as any in the business as he paints pictures with his carefully crafted words. You can hear some of his music from his virtual concert on YouTube.

Kyle recalled coming to Nashville as a boy in the late 60s, and early 70s when the racetrack was at the Fairgrounds. Country singer Marty Robbins was also a race car driver and he would take Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, and some of the guys from the racetrack to the Ryman where they would stand in the wings with these big cardboard fans because there wasn’t any air-conditioning. Kyle watched Marty play and sing and he was one of the first people he knew who played guitar.

Kyle received his first guitar at age 12 from a traveling preacher at the racetrack.  He told me, “I took lessons from a guy who taught me A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and A minor, B minor, C minor, and all that, and then he told me I needed to go learn them all, that he couldn't teach anymore. So I just learned like 20 million other people by listening to others play.”

Soon after, he began writing his own music, finding creative influences in Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Carole King, James Taylor, and more. In the ‘80s, Kyle took to the stage for a brief period after signing with RCA Records.

Kyle considers himself more of a songwriter than a singer and still gets up at 5:30 to write. He recently wrote a New York Times best-seller, “Swerve or Die” which he had originally intended to be a collection of stories but ended up being more like a memoir of his and his family’s lives.

In addition to racing and music, Kyle has always been a champion of philanthropy. Since 1995, Kyle has hosted hundreds of NASCAR fans, drivers, and motorcycle enthusiasts on his annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America – one of the country's most successful and popular charity events. To date, the Ride has raised more than $20 million for a variety of children’s hospitals and Victory Junction – a camp created by Kyle and his family in honor of his late son, Adam.

Since he no longer races, the driven (no pun intended) entrepreneur is an infectious TV personality. He can be seen on Peacock's twice-weekly show, NASCAR America MotorMouths, and on pre- and post-race NASCAR Cup and Xfinity coverage on NBC and USA Network. He also co-hosts the weekly radio show, "Fast Talk" on the Performance Racing Network and regularly contributes to NASCAR's "Backseat Drivers" YouTube series.

Kyle Petty was in Nashville recently for the annual Ally 400 race on June 25th. But before that, he played the Opry while promoting the third season of his popular primetime TV show, Dinner Drive with Kyle Petty on the Circle Network.

On this show, Kyle takes you on a trip to visit with notable athletes, musicians, actors, and personalities in the place they call home. Along the way, each guest showcases a vehicle that has a special meaning to them. Whether it’s their very first car, an antique car, their dream car, or even a boat or motorcycle, Petty finds out the sentimental stories behind them. That’s all before they hop in and take a spin at each guest’s favorite local eatery to enjoy some good food and even better conversation about growing up in their hometown, their careers, personal life, and more.

Past guests on his show include Dale Earnhardt Jr., Davis Love III, Darius Rucker, Mario Andretti, Ric Flair, Richard Petty, Herschel Walker, Pitbull John Oates, Darrell Waltrip, John Rich, Chipper Jones, Joe Gibbs, Lyle Lovett, Jeff Gordon, Andrew and Shawn Johnson East, the Avett Brothers and Scott Hamilton.

Season Three of Dinner Drive with Kyle Petty will premiere Thursday, June 29 at 10/9CT on Circle TV with first guest Kyle Busch. Other guests will include Terry Bradshaw, Mugsy Bogues, John Crist, Bill Engvall, John Schneider, and more.

To find Circle Network click here.

Fans can now catch up on past seasons of Circle Network's shows on the Circle Now app, available on all mobile app stores plus Roku, Apple TV, Fire TV, LG, Android TV, and more.

After speaking with Kyle Petty, I realized that more than anything, he is a gifted storyteller. Whether he is doing racing commentary, singing at the Opry, writing a book, or hosting a reality TV show, he is telling stories, his own and others. And these stories, like music, help heal us when we find common ground.

He recalled, “From the time Adam's accident happened, I never left the house without a guitar. I was still driving a race car. I'd go to the racetrack on the weekends and sit on the bus and play the guitar. And I've told people that a million times, you can tell a guitar anything, it never talks back. And when it does talk back, it tells you exactly what you want to hear. And that's the way it always is.”

Kyle Petty’s life may not have turned out at all how he planned it, but now with a beautiful wife and five children, he has found his lane. As he shares his and others’ life experiences, we are all the better because of it.

You can follow Kyle Petty on his website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blogInstagram, and Twitter.