Kyle Petty. [Courtesy photo]

NASCAR fans will have a chance to meet driving legends Kyle Petty (and his father, Richard Petty), Ken Schrader, Kenny Wallace, Max Papis, and NBC sports NASCAR announcer Rick Allen when they visit Moab on Thursday, May 4 as part of the 27th annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. The week-long motorcycle ride will travel through Utah and Nevada raising funds for Victory Junction, a summer camp founded by Kyle Petty for children with serious and chronic medical conditions.

“For people who live in the East, [Utah] is a dreamscape,” Petty said. “There’s some beautiful stuff in the East—the Blue Ridge Parkway, the mountains, the coast. But when God created Utah, he created, for motorcycle riders, something as close to the Garden of Eden as we’re ever going to get.” 

The ride will start in Salt Lake City, then take riders through Ely, Tonopah, and Las Vegas, Nevada, then to Cedar City and Moab before finishing in Salt Lake. Riders will take a stopover in Tonopah—something requested from previous years, Petty said—then continue on. Each day of the ride will include at least two “fan pit stops” where fans can meet riders and request autographs (autographed items are limited to two per person). Moab’s pit stop will take place at the HooDoo on Thursday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m. 

[Courtesy photo]

Since 1995, the charity ride has raised over $20 million for Victory Junction—kids who attend the camp do so with no cost. It’s an “amazing place,” Petty said, one that honors his late son, Adam, who died in 2000. 

“When something tragic happens, you can do two things: you can lock up or you can keep moving forward. And we kept moving forward—we built the camp,” Petty said. “And the other thing you have the tendency to do in life is when something comes about like camp, you have a tendency to stand back and pat yourself on the back and say, look what I did. But you should never let foolish pride get in your way—because this is not about you. It’s about all the people that built it, and all the people that donated.”

Victory Junction was always meant to be completely free, Petty said. Families with children dealing with serious illnesses like blood disorders or cancer have so many costs to pay, and Petty didn’t want this experience to be an additional burden. 

“It puts life in perspective,” Petty said. “For me, this is all about seeing the pure joy camp creates for kids.” 

This year’s charity ride will be attended by 225 riders on 130 motorcycles. To tour the country by car is to only see “one-third” of it, Petty said—you have to take the roof off to be fully immersed. The ride brings along a crew of doctors, a luggage crew, a hotel crew, a mechanics group, and a few retired North Carolina state patrolmen to act as motor marshals. 

“I’m sure it’s like standing in the middle of a stampede when you see us leaving a gas stop,” Petty said. But it’s a good group, he added, full of enthusiastic riders. 

Aside from raising money for campers, Petty said his favorite part of the ride is meeting new people along the way, both the participants in the ride and attendees of the fan events. Every year he has a new story about “somebody who touched my life,” he said. 

“It’s a big freaking country,” he said. “But there are so many kind and good people out there who come out and say hello every ride.” 

The Moab stop will take place at the HooDoo on Thursday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m.