The Story Behind the ‘Stache: Richard Petty

Published On July 17, 2013 » 1590 Views» By Godwin Kelly » Blogs, Brickyard 400, Cup Series

The following is the one of four posts highlighting the top four contenders in our #SuperStache ‘Stache-Off. Be sure to visit the Super Stache website daily and vote for your favorite NASCAR ‘staches. A winner will be crowned during the 2013 Super Weekend.

You would not recognize early photos of Richard Petty. Back in his 20s, Petty was second-fiddle to his father, Lee Petty, who competed in the first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in 1949 then 10 years later won the inaugural Daytona 500. Sportswriters referred to Lee’s kid as “Dick” Petty in early race dispatches.

Lee Petty was so clean-shaven, he always looked like he had just come from the barber shop. No kidding.

Fast forward to 2013, and the 76-year-old Richard Petty not only owns one of sports’ all-time legacy mustaches but also a two-car NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team, Richard Petty Motorsports.

Richard Petty at the 2012 Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard. ‘Stache and all.

Petty has become stock-car racing’s most recognized personality with his Charlie 1 Horse cowboy hat and super-dark wrap-around sunglasses. We haven’t seen his eyeballs since Richard Nixon was president. It was in the 1970s that Richard Petty was crowned the “King of Stock Car Racing,” and somewhere in that super-hairy decade, the Petty mustache emerged to serve as the scepter for his face.

The royal ‘stache has transformed through the years. It reached a noticeably full bush stage in the ‘70s because Petty had to use it to balance his pork chop sideburns. At times, he looked like a Civil War general. “Dang the Mercurys! Forward Charger!”

That was then. This is now. Petty has chopped, trimmed and fashioned his ‘stache down to a neatly cropped, tightly manicured “lampshade” styling suitable for a man of his age, importance and distinction. It is regal. Let’s call it “garage area elegant.” With this style of ‘stache, Petty would not look out of place changing an oil filter or sitting at a State Dinner. It’s a tiny strip of facial hair genius.

The ‘stache will always be part of Petty’s iconic image. After all, Petty has maintained the cowboy hat/sunglasses/mustache trifecta for four decades. That is true commitment. As Petty would tell you, “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it, you know what I mean?”


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