Richard Petty: still believes women don’t belong in NASCAR
Richard Petty – a longtime hero of mine – really disappoints me with his belief that women don't belong behind the wheel.
From Fox Sports:
Richard Petty didn't think women belonged on the race track when Janet Guthrie became the first female driver to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 in 1976.
Thirty years later, his opinion hasn't changed.
"I just don't think it's a sport for women," Petty said in an interview with The Associated Press. "And so far, it's proved out. It's really not. It's good for them to come in. It gives us a lot of publicity, it gives them publicity.
"But as far as being a real true racer, making a living out of it, it's kind of tough."
His son, Kyle Petty, seems to feel a little differently – sort of.
Kyle Petty, who currently runs the two-car operation built by his grandfather and father, said he would never rule out having a woman driver. He also pointed out that Petty Enterprises was one of the first teams in the garage to employ female engineers and mechanics.
But he said his father will never budge on his belief that women don't belong behind the wheel – even if Kyle Petty's daughter one day decides she wants to be a racer.
"His position is not going to change because that is who he is, that is part of who he is," Kyle Petty said. "That's just a fact of life. That's how he was raised, when he was raised, the era he was raised in. And that's just the way it is."
I can understand what Kyle Petty's saying. A lot of men of that generation, not just race car drivers, believe that women really don't belong in certain places, whether it's behind the wheel at NASCAR or behind the stick in an F-18, or even in the Chair's seat in a boardroom.
However, I do hope that more women, especially his granddaughter, take him up on the challenge. What exactly is it does he think makes racing so difficult for women?
Yeah, it's tough and there are a lot of challenges where physical strength are important, but honestly – don't you think that maybe – just maybe – flying the world's most expensive, most technically-advanced fighter jets and helicopters in combat might be just a bit tougher?
So, if the military thinks women can do that – and do it as well as their male counterparts – driving a real expensive stick-shift in left circles for a few hours certainly shouldn't be considered male-only territory.
Especially when you consider that even Petty Enterprises allows women to be part of the teams that build and maintain these vehicles.