Hall Of Fame Engine Builder Maurice Petty Passes At 81

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Maurice Petty, the man who built the engines that powered his brother Richard Petty to most of his 200 NASCAR wins, has died at the age of 81. (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images Photo)
Maurice Petty, the man who built the engines that powered his brother Richard Petty to most of his 200 NASCAR wins, has died at the age of 81. (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images Photo)

RANDLEMAN, N.C. – Maurice Petty, a member of the legendary Petty family and the man who provided the horsepower to his seven-time NASCAR champion brother Richard Petty, died Saturday at the age of 81.

Born in 1938, Maurice Petty was an important part of the Petty family dynasty that dominated NASCAR for years. He was a skilled engine builder and he is credited with building engines that earned 212 NASCAR Cup Series victories.

Richard Petty won the bulk of those races. However, his father Lee Petty, Buddy Baker, Jim Paschal and Pete Hamilton also scored victories with engines built by Maurice Petty.

“The ‘Chief’ was one of the most talented mechanics in NASCAR history,” said Jim France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO. “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.”

Maurice Petty was crew chief for Hamilton’s victory in the 1970 Daytona 500 and two victories at Talladega Superspeedway. He had a brief driving career, earning seven top-five and 16 top-10 finishes at NASCAR’s highest level.

Maurice Petty joined Richard Petty and Lee Petty as a member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014.

“First and foremost, on behalf of everyone at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, we offer our most sincere condolences to Timmy, Ritchie, Mark, Elizabeth and the entire Petty family,” said NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley. “Maurice Petty was one of the true pioneers in NASCAR who helped build one of NASCAR’s first dominant teams in Petty Enterprises. ‘Chief,’ as Maurice was known to so many, was multi-talented and most known for his prowess in building powerful motors for his brother Richard and many others who drove for Petty Enterprises, including NASCAR Hall of Famer Buddy Baker and Pete Hamilton.

“One of his many crowning achievements was serving as crew chief and engine builder for Hamilton in 1970 when they won the Daytona 500 and both races at Talladega Superspeedway. Although the record shows 212 victories, Petty has well over 250 wins to his credit considering all the engines he built for his competitors. 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 (Class of 2011) and brother Richard (Class of 2010), 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.”