NASCAR driver Kyle Petty will be signing copies of his memoir “Swerve or Die: Life at My Speed in the First Family of NASCAR Racing,” at Roosky’s Bar and Grill in Uptown Martinsville on Oct. 29, following the Dead on Tools 250 Xfinity race. He also will sign copies at the Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 30.
Petty’s book, which was written with Pulitzer Prize-winner Ellis Henican, came about during the pandemic, when he had time to sit and reflect.
“People have always said, ‘Man, you’ve been around so long, you should write something down.’ You just never have time. And when the pandemic came along, I had time,” he said.
The book is a combination of history, stories, and a memoir, all wrapped up into one package.
“There’s funny stories, history about my granddad and about my dad, and about myself and about my son, Adam. At the same time, it’s how I’ve dealt with different things of life, so then it gets a little personal. It kind of weaves in and out of two or three different genres,” Petty said.
Petty has held book signings in Dallas, Daytona, Charlotte, and more, but Martinsville is a special place to him.
“Martinsville is a place that we really wanted to come for a couple of reasons. For me, growing up in North Carolina just across the border, down around Greensboro, Martinsville was always kind of …, my dad considered it our home track,” he said. “And that racetrack is the oldest track on the circuit. They’ve been running that track since 1949. My granddads ran there, I ran there, you know, my dad ran there obviously, he won a million races there.”
The book signings he’s held so far haven’t quite been what Petty expected.
“Race fans are the greatest fans in the world. You tell a bunch of race fans there’s going to be one of their favorite drivers or somebody in NASCAR’s signing autographs somewhere and they’re going to go line up to get an autograph,” he said. “But at the same time, I’ve had a large quantity and a large number of people that have come through the line and bought the book that know nothing about racing.”
He said those new to the sport readers often tell him they learned a lot about him, his family, and NASCAR’s history.
“That’s been the biggest thing for me is seeing how people that really aren’t race fans and don’t know our life story and how they react to it,” Petty said.