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Maurice Petty, NASCAR Hall of Famer and Prolific Engine Builder, Passes Away at Age 81

1980: Richard Petty crew chief and cousin, Dale Inman (L), talks with Maurice Petty, Richard’s engine builder and brother. (Photo by ISC Archives/CQ-Roll Call Group via Getty Images)

Maurice Petty, a NASCAR Hall of Famer and former engine builder and crew chief, has passed away at the age of 81. Petty was the son of another NASCAR Hall of Famer, Lee Petty and the brother of The King Richard Petty, who is also a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Richard Petty Motorsports confirmed Petty’s passing by releasing a statement from the Petty family.

“The Petty announces with great sadness the loss of Maurice Petty, who died peacefully on Saturday, July 25, 2020. Maurice, a stock-car racing pioneer whose career supplied the horsepower that propelled Petty Enterprises to victories, passed away surrounded by family earlier this morning. He was 81-years old.”

Following the confirmation, RPM released this tribute on Twitter:

Maurice Petty was a legend in the sport of NASCAR. There was a time where nobody built greater engines than the power-plants that he provided for his family’s Petty Enterprises organization and he was a key cog in helping his brother transform from Lee’s son into The King.

His motors not only powered The King to greatness, but his engines could also be found under the hood of his father’s cars, Buddy Baker’s machines as well as Jim Paschal and Pete Hamilton.

While he was best known for his engine building prowess, the man nicknamed The Chief, had an extensive career in all facets of the sport.

He was a driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, who recorded seven top-five finishes and 16 top-10s in 26 starts between 1960 and 1964.

Petty also served as crew chief for 15 combined races with Paschal and Hamilton as the drivers. As a crew chief, Petty scored three wins in 15 starts with 10 top-five finishes and 12 top-10s.

Petty was a 2014 inductee of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR Chairman Jim France released a statement on Saturday on the death of, “a true NASCAR giant.”

“The ‘Chief’ was one of the most talented mechanics in NASCAR history. He provided the power that helped Petty Enterprises define dominance in sports. While he was known for his work under the hood, Maurice played multiple “behind-the-scenes” roles, doing whatever it took to help deliver his cars to victory lane. On behalf of the France family, I offer my condolences to the friends and family of Maurice Petty, a true NASCAR giant.”

Toby Christie View All

Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.

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