At different times, third generation NASCAR star Kyle Petty has moonlighted as a country music singer. His most visible song to date was “Oh King Richard,” a well-meaning yet creatively lacking single from 1996 about legendary dad Richard Petty.
The younger Petty pays tribute to a sport made possible by his grandfather Lee and popularized by his dad. One of the “kings” of Southern culture, Richard Petty won a whopping 200 races, including seven Daytona 500s. His number 43 car remains iconic and is now driven by promising youngster Darrell Wallace Jr.
NASCAR’s king seems like a deep enough well of song material. After all, the entire Petty clan has a place in many racing fans’ hearts. To date, songs about King Richard aren’t particularly great. Not even perennial hit-makers and Southern culture connoisseurs Alabama could salute the King’s last ride without sounding a little corny. Kyle’s stab at a musical tribute hardly captures the talents he showed when performing other songs. With better lyrics, this missed opportunity could’ve better celebrated a son’s love for his father and fans’ love of a legend.
When his stock car career took off in the mid-’80s, Kyle was in the running for an RCA album, featuring a pretty decent original song called “Old Habit.” His shot at mainstream music success came in 1996, when Columbia Records issued “Oh King Richard” as part of a split single with country singer and actor Mark Collie.
Kyle Petty retired from NASCAR in 2008, freeing up time for his music. He even has a few upcoming tour dates with Americana artist David Childers.