He may never have won a championship during his 33-year career spanning multiple NASCAR circuits. But as a lifelong advocate for the sport and one of the most well-known names in the Winston Cup Series, our Kyle Petty number 42 car represents everything good about stock car racing and its heritage.
If you know one thing about our downtown Winston-Salem museum, it’s that we aim to honor drivers like Petty by preserving their history and displaying for our guests any way we can. With Petty’s number 42 Coors Light Silver Bullet car, we have done just that.
Driven by Petty during the 1995 season, the blue and red Pontiac is an icon of the times and a reminder to guests of the Petty family influence on the sport and the transformation it has taken on over the years.
It’s no secret that our museum’s owner, Will Spencer, is an avid car collector with a knack for finding hidden treasures wherever he goes. As Will tells it, he found the car on Ebay and purchased it from Irvin Campers in Little Hocking, Ohio. Like many of the cars on our museum floor, Will heard about it through word-of-mouth and decided to buy it.
The Kyle Petty car was in his possession for 10 years or more before our museum ever opened. But after being hidden for so long in storage, Will and the team at JKS Incorporated decided to bring the Silver Bullet back to life.
“It takes 40 plus cars to make up a race and for you to have 10 stars, there has to be 30 others with no real reason to race other than the love,” Will said of Kyle Petty and the number 42 car. “The museum is not made up of champions! It made up of the drivers that made the sport. The everyday man!”
The Petty name is steeped deep in NASCAR history, representing some of the finest drivers the sport has ever known. But as third-generation driver in the Petty family, Kyle carried on the legacy of his dad, Richard, and grandfather, Lee.
Born in Randleman in 1960, Petty joined the Winston Cup Series in 1979 and went on to collect eight career wins in NASCAR’s preeminent cup series. Petty’s best years on the circuit came in 1992 and 1993, when he finished fifth in the Cup Series championship standings.
As Will says, “his dynasty in history was a given.”
That dynasty carried on through the 2008 season, but Petty’s heyday ended well before. During the 1995 season, Petty won the final race of his career in the very car that today sits on our museum floor.
The 12th race of the 1995 season, the Miller Genuine Draft in Dover, Delaware presented Petty with quite a challenge. Petty and his number 42 Pontiac Coors Light Silver Bullet started the race in 37th position. Over the course of 500 miles around the mile-long Dover oval, Petty passed car after car, taking the lead on lap 132 and holding it for just two laps.
Petty and the number 42 Silver Bullet regained the lead on lap 136 and held it for the next 82 laps. Petty jockeyed with the field, specifically Bobby Labonte, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt through the second half of the race, capturing the lead three separate times before securing it for good on lap 459.
Petty ultimately won the race by .22 seconds just ahead of Labonte. Petty led 271 laps in the number 42 and earned $77,665 as the race’s winner.
The race would stand as one of the final victories for a Pontiac car in NASCAR history, as the company withdrew from NASCAR in 2003.
But the history of the number 42 Silver Bullet lives on inside our museum and we invite you to relive the days of Winston Cup Series Racing through our Kyle Petty number 42 display. Join us for a tour or host your special event around some of the most influential and unique NASCAR treasures around.