Richard Petty’s famous No. 43 stock car has been named as one of the “101 Objects That Made America” by Smithsonian Magazine, after a total of 137 million artifacts were sourced by the famous museum to come up with the final list.
The No. 43 that has earned this honor is a specific one – the No. 43 Pontiac Grand Prix that took Petty to his 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory on July 4, 1984 at Daytona International Speedway, an event that featured then-President Ronald Reagan among the attendees.
“I just think the fact that it’s the Smithsonian, and they had all these pieces of history or objects to look at, and they picked our car is what makes it special,” Petty said in a statement.
“That just made us feel pretty good that they include the car and mentioned a little about what we did. You look at everything on that list, it’s our history, and it’s humbling that they think we’re a part of that.”
The 101 objects are split into nine categories. Petty’s No. 43 car is among the objects in “Happiness,” which also features such things as the Barbie doll, the teddy bear, and the guitar of rock and roll legend Chuck Berry.
In an essay, Jeff MacGregor declares Petty and the car as icons that bridged the sport’s various generations.
“This race car and that racer and that 1984 race bridged the years from NASCAR’s moonshine and red-dirt beginnings to its cork-lined helmet and bathing-beauty days to the clean-shaven, two-terabyte matinee idol brand strategy the sport has lately become,” he writes.