Maurice Petty, an engine builder who propelled the Petty family dynasty to NASCAR success and younger brother of NASCAR legend Richard, has died aged 81.
Maurice primarily served the Petty Enterprises organisation, founded by his father Lee, as an engine builder and crew chief, but he also had his own racing career from 1960 to 1964.
In 1970, Petty was the crew chief for Pete Hamilton, who won three races for Petty Enterprises, including the 1970 Daytona 500 and both races at Talladega.
As an engine builder, he built the motors that helped brother Richard win a NASCAR-record 200 victories and seven championships in what is now the Cup series.
“The ‘Chief’ was one of the most talented mechanics in NASCAR history,” NASCAR chairman and CEO Jim France said in a statement.
“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.”
Petty was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014, the first engine builder to receive the honour.
He was credited with 212 wins as an engine builder with nearly half-a-dozen drivers.
In addition to his brother and Hamilton, he also built engines for winners Lee Petty, Buddy Baker and Jim Paschal.
“Although the record shows 212 victories, Petty has well over 250 wins to his credit considering all the engines he built for his competitors,” NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelly said in a statement.
“‘Chief’ will forever be remembered as one of the best to ever build power plants in NASCAR.
“He joined his Hall of Famer family members, father Lee and brother Richard as a NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee in 2014.
“While we have lost one of NASCAR’s true, gritty pioneers and heroes, Maurice Petty’s legacy and memory will always be remembered, preserved, celebrated and cherished at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
“Again, we offer our sincere condolences to the entire Petty family.”
Maurice was preceded in death in 2014 by his wife of 52 years, Patricia.