In a statement released Saturday, the NASCAR community learned that Maurice Petty had passed away.
“The Petty family 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.”
In 2014 Petty was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as an engine builder. He played an integral role in the success of his brother, Richard Petty, who achieved 200 Cup Series wins and seven Cup Series championships. He also built winning engines for Buddy Baker, Pete Hamilton and Jim Paschal.
He was the fourth member of the Petty dynasty to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, following his brother Richard, his father Lee Petty and his cousin, Dale Inman.
Known to all as ‘Chief’, he was widely considered one of the best engine builders in the history of NASCAR. Petty began his career as a driver, with 26 starts in NASCAR’s premier series that included seven top-five and 16 top-10 finishes. But he soon realized his true calling as an engine builder.
When Maurice was voted into the Hall of Fame, Richard Petty said that without his brother, “there wouldn’t have been a Richard Petty or a Lee Petty or a Dale Inman accomplishing the things that (we) did accomplish. He is the engine man that everybody has to compete against.”
In 2013, Maurice spoke about his journey in the sport.
“I was one of the first (engine builders), so it makes you like a pioneer or something,” he said. “We had three or four guys helping out, but not the whole time. We did it the hard way.
“I came along and I have welded, swept the floors and I drove. I did it all up until a point — in 1964, that’s when I turned it all into building the engines.”
Jim France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO, said in a statement, “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.”