Petty’s 1988 Daytona wreck sold as prelude to upcoming auction of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens estate


There was no price or winner announced after it was sold Saturday, but a valuable piece of NASCAR history was auctioned off Saturday in Greer, South Carolina.

The remnants of the 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix that Richard Petty crashed, flipped and spun (video below) in the 1988 Daytona 500 – ultimately walking away from the wreckage of one of the most spectacular crashes in NASCAR history – was sold by Wham Auctions.

The car is still in its original crashed shape. And even though it’s been 26 years since Petty’s fateful wreck, it was a prized collector’s item. Or as the Wham web site put it, a “Once in a lifetime event.”

The car came from the estate of NASCAR Hall of Famer Cotton Owens, who passed away a little over two years ago. Saturday’s auction was somewhat of a prelude to an auction of Owens’ memorabilia, tools and equipment that will be sold Dec. 6 at his home, located at 7065 White Avenue, Spartanburg, S.C.

Among items on the auction block include a 1964 Grand National-winning race car, complete with its original Hemi motor, as well as Owens’ home, garage and all of its contents.

“I have two children, and my sister has two children, and it would be very difficult to divide everything up into four parts for them to inherit,” Cotton Owens’ son, Don, told Michael Burns of the Greenville (S.C.) News. “The property taxes and the fact that when things sit around for a long period of time things tend to happen to them – it’s not something that we wanted to do, but we’re kind of forced into having to do it.”

Auctioneer Patsy Robinson is looking forward to a big turnout, especially of longtime fans of NASCAR and Owens.

“It’s just phenomenal,” Robertson said of the scope of the Owens estate. “It should be a fun auction.”

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Robert Wickens in the Indy 500? Bryan Herta making plans to field a car for next year

Robert Wickens Indy 500
Brett Farmer/LAT Images/IMSA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bryan Herta wants to enter Robert Wickens in the Indy 500 as early as 2024 – a year longer than preferred as work continues on the hand controls needed for the paralyzed driver.

Wickens suffered a spinal cord injury in a crash at Pocono Raceway in his 2018 IndyCar rookie season. He’s worked as a driver coach for the Arrow McLaren IndyCar team since, but last year with Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai returned to racing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The 33-year-old Canadian won a pair of races (including the season opener at Daytona) driving a Hyundai Elantra N-TCR that is fitted for Wickens to race strictly through hand controls. Herta said Thursday that perfecting that technology for an Indy car in the biggest race in the world has slowed the project he’s determined to do with Wickens.

‘I’M AS HUNGRY AS EVER’: Robert Wickens’ return to racing

“I’d love to take Robbie back to Indy because I know he could do that, and I think that would be a next step for him in his journey,” Herta told The Associated Press. “We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the logistical side of things, hand controls, and I think we have solutions for that.”

Herta said Honda has been supportive of the process, which Herta called “one of the most important things we’ve done in racing” last year.

“We actually looked at doing it this year, but the logistics of it, the timing, it just wasn’t enough,” Herta said. “That’s not something you can rush. There’s some things that we have to work very closely with IndyCar on, and things we just have to get right. It’s a process, but I can see a path to it.”

Wickens, when told his boss was openly discussing the Indy 500, grinned widely. Herta as a team owner won the Indianapolis 500 with Dan Wheldon and Alexander Rossi.

“That’d be fun,” he said of running the Indy 500.

But like Herta, Wickens said the effort has to be both done correctly and be competitive.

“We’d like to do it right. If we started right now, can we get a car ready for the open test in April? Probably,” Wickens told The AP. “But I don’t know where the systems would be and I want to get on proper simulators to make sure its correct.

“We all want to do a proper, professional effort,” he added. “I don’t want to do it for a marketing campaign. I want to do it for a chance to win.”

Wickens in 2021 did a demonstration in Canada that marketed advancements for paralyzed drivers and gave him a chance to again drive. His entire life had been upended 14 races into his rookie IndyCar season, just three months after winning top rookie honors at the Indianapolis 500.

Wickens has since married, returned to racing last year and welcomed the birth of his first child, an son named Wesley whom is infatuated with both race cars and the trip to Disney he took this week during the off days at Daytona International Speedway.

Wickens, who uses a wheelchair but can stand with some support, marks a full year back racing on Friday in the season-opening IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race. Despite success last season, Herta made changes to his lineups and Wickens this year will be teamed with Harry Gottsacker.