Kyle Petty takes off on 20th Charity Ride Across America

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If you live between Carlsbad, Calif., and Daytona Beach and see a large group of motorcycles coming up in your rearview mirror some time in the next eight days, it’s likely the guy on the lead bike will be NASCAR analyst Kyle Petty.

Petty and about 175 others kicked off the 20th annual Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America on Saturday in Carlsbad. The 2,800-mile trek – the longest in the ride’s history – will continue through May 10 and end in the infield of Daytona International Speedway.

“What began as just a few friends having a good time riding track to track has turned into what we have today, which is an incredible event that provides thousands of life changing experiences for children,” Petty said in a media release. “This is the first year we’ve traveled straight from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and I’m looking forward to experiencing it with friends, while meeting our fans and generous supporters along the way.”

The Ride is designed to raise funds and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp Petty and wife Patti established for kids with chronic or life threatening illnesses more than 10 years ago after the tragic death of son Adam Petty in a practice crash at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“It’s amazing to see how one tragedy can turn into something so incredible like Victory Junction,” NASCAR Hall of Famer and Kyle’s father, Richard, said.

The King will take part in one of the segments of the Ride, along with current NASCAR star Matt Kenseth, former NASCAR driver Geoff Bodine, NASCAR legends Harry Gant and Donnie Allison and former NFL great Herschel Walker.

“After five years, it’s great to be back on the Kyle Petty Charity Ride to support Kyle and the Camp – just in time for the 20th Anniversary,” Richard Petty said.

Here’s the schedule for the 2014 Kyle Petty Charity Ride:

• Day 1 Saturday, May 3 – Carlsbad, Calif. to Tucson, Ariz.

• Day 2 Sunday, May 4 – Tucson, Ariz. to Las Cruces, N.M.

• Day 3 Monday, May 5 – Las Cruces, N.M. to Midland, Texas

• Day 4 Tuesday, May 6 – Midland, Texas to Austin, Texas

• Day 5 Wednesday, May 7 – Austin, Texas to Beaumont, Texas

• Day 6 Thursday, May 8 – Beaumont, Texas to New Orleans

• Day 7 Friday, May 9 – New Orleans to Tallahassee, Fla.

• Day 8 Saturday, May 10 – Tallahassee, Fla. to Daytona Beach, Fla.

During its first 19 years, more than 7,330 riders have taken part in the Ride, logging over 10.7 million cumulative motorcycle miles and donated $15 million to Victory Junction Camp and other children’s charities.

To follow Petty and the riders live, visit facebook.com/KPCharityRide, on Twitter at @kpcharityride or @kylepetty. You can also donate on the Ride’s web site, www.kylepettycharityride.com.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”