“Ride across America” comes through Goshen and Hot Springs
It’s not everyday I get to have a conversation with a former NASCAR driver. But when I got to talk to Kyle Petty, son of NASCAR legend Richard Petty, and father of Adam, I asked the same thing I usually ask people coming through our listening area. Have you ever been to Bath County before?
“Once maybe twice, but we always have come in from the west, coming from the West Coast back to the East Coast, and we’d drop in there, and then swing down. This will be our first foray coming down through the Shenandoah National Park, and then swinging over this direction, so we are really, really excited about coming into Hot Springs, and coming into the Homestead area.”
On Thursday, Mr. Petty, and around one-hundred and thirty friends and fellow motorsports stars will be riding through Goshen, Virginia, pausing there around 2:30 to meet fans, and be presented with the key to the “city” by Mayor Tom McGraw. From there, the riders will continue west through Panther Gap, Millboro Springs, and on across one more mountain before staying at the Homestead for the night.
“When we started the ride in ’95, we really just wanted to ride motorcycles from California to North Carolina to say that we had ridden across country, and oh yeah, we’ll do it for charity. The charity was the secondary aspect of it to be honest with you.”
The “Ride across America” annually benefits Victory Junction, a camp near Greenboro, North Carolina for children with chronic illnesses, and their families.
“We would ride to Phoenix to the race, and one year we rode out there, and people just started joining in and riding with us, ‘cause we had done it enough that they knew that we were coming through their area, so they would ride. So we thought’ Oh my gosh, what a great idea!’ We can pick up people all across the country. Well, that’s good in theory, but not too good in practice. It’s just way too many people.”
Over the years the ride has become more organized, and last year it raised 1.3 million dollars towards Camp Victory Junction in memory of Kyle’s late son Adam.
“We decided we would just set the number of people, and like this year we have about a hundred and twenty bikes, a hundred and thirty bikes. There’s two hundred and twenty people in all when you count our support people, and all the people who travel with us. So, it’s a pretty big crowd, and we can’t really take many more bikes than that; so we’ve kind of limited it, and not just had people joining in left and right because that gets a little chaotic.”
A large group of retired North Carolina State Highway Patrolmen rides with the group to help manage.
“And we position them through the pack. You have a couple, three or four that lead, and then you have a couple about half way back, and a few at the back. And they’re constantly in radio contact with each other, constantly in radio contact with local authorities, so we can keep our group together. We do get spread out when we’re on the Interstate because we never ask anyone to ride over their ability.”
When asked how spectator friendly their stops are along the route, Kyle Petty replied.
“Please, please, please! Everywhere we go, we invite the public, to spend some time, you know my dad, Richard Petty, Harry Gant, who is a former driver, Hershel McGriff, Ricky Craven, Donny Allison, a current driver, David Ragan, some of those guys, Hershel Walker, who’s a Heisman Trophy winner, and ex-NFL superstar, he’s with us. We have some members of NBC, Rick Allen, Krista Voda, Rutledge Wood, some of my colleagues at NBS will be with us, so we invite the public to come out and say hello. I’m hoping my friend Rick Mast who lives up there, that he comes over and says hello, and that we get to see him too, because it would be cool to get to see him.”
To rub elbows with these motorsports celebs on Thursday, you can gather near the BP station in Goshen around 2:30, or to see the whole rolling show come to a rest for the night, find you way to Hot Springs, before they take off for the last part of their trip on Friday morning.