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.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”