Auto Racing: Boy with a Silver Spanner

A lot of things run in families besides blond hair and bad teeth. A bent for politics, for instance, or aft ear for music, or a genius for making money. Richard Petty, 30, of Level Cross, N.C., was born with a silver spanner wrench in his mouth.

Around the dirt and asphalt speed ways of the South, auto-racing fans still talk about his father, Lee Petty, who in 13 years on the stock-car circuit won 54 Grand National races—a record that few experts ever expected to see beaten. Papa Petty is now 53; he walks with a permanent limp, the souvenir...

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