In the Pits
Kyle Petty challenges Daytona on a motorcycle
NASCAR veteran Kyle Petty has raced stock cars and sports cars at Daytona International Speedway. In early March, he added motorcycles to that list after taking lessons from Supercross legend Ricky Carmichael.
Petty, along with his SPEED Channel co-host Rutledge Wood, took part in the inaugural Ricky Carmichael University where Carmichael, the five-time Daytona Supercross champion, and his team of experts shared tips and techniques with Supercross racers of all ages in the one-day camp.
“There are kids here that are five or six years old that just worship the ground he walks on,” Petty said of Carmichael. “He’s like Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. all rolled into one when it comes to motocross. To be able to come and learn from someone like that is incredible.”
Petty, who has always enjoyed motorcycles but did not have any previous Supercross experience, equated participating in the event to a kid being able to take a lap around Daytona International Speedway the day after the Daytona 500.
Carmichael, who is retired from Super-cross competition and is now pursuing a stock car career with Turner Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, was impressed with the performance of both Petty and Wood.
“Kyle is doing fantastic,” Carmichael said. “Rutledge is doing amazing. Racers are racers. When I explained stuff to Kyle, he would go out and execute it. You could see the light bulb click on, if you will. It’s neat to see at their level, guys who are doing it for the first time. It’s so fun to see the progression.”
While Carmichael had fun with Petty and Wood, he also enjoyed working with some of the future Supercross stars.
“It’s good for the sport,” Carmichael said. “We love (the school) and we want it to succeed. The main thing is to bring attention to the kids how historic Daytona is. When you come into the Speedway, it’s amazing.
“You drive underneath the tunnel, especially between (Turns) 3 and 4, it’s a whole other world. It’s really cool. I hope that all these guys realize how magical this place is, how special it is and how much history is here whether it’s two-wheel racing or four-wheel racing.”
Petty will make his return to Daytona International Speedway in July for the Independence Day holiday weekend and the 52nd annual Coke Zero 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
Last year’s Coke Zero 400 was a wild affair as Tony Stewart passed Kyle Busch with the checkered flag in sight. Petty expects no less this year as he prepares to watch the race as part of the TNT broadcast team.
“The 500 had a heck of a finish,” said Petty, who won the 1979 ARCA 200 and also earned the pole for the Daytona 500 back in 1993. “I’m looking forward to getting back down here.”