LEVEL CROSS, N.C. – official release — Richard Petty Foundation photo — He never cared to fly, and never had in his young 98 years of life, but this past week was different for Henry Jakes of Murfreesboro, Tenn. He was going to meet “The King,” Richard Petty, thanks to an offer from the Petty Family Foundation.
The Foundation and Petty heard that Jakes had a bucket list, and in that bucket was a wish to meet the man who has 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup wins and to spend a day with him. So it began, the plans to put Jakes on a plane for the frst time and fly him from his home to Level Cross, N.C. to spend a day and evening with Petty.
Petty was ready to send his own personal jet to pick up Jakes, but instead, Jakes preferred to fly “on a big plane” and see the sights and sounds. He had the full expereince of flying, complete with a flight delay from Atlanta to Greensboro, before arriving and meeting Petty at his Museum in Level Cross.
So what’s the first thing Jakes asked when he arrived at the Petty Museum? He lobbied Petty and the staff to be the “Official Greeter.” Even at 98, Jakes is eager to get to work.
Jakes then took the tour of the Petty Museum given by Petty himself. They spent the afternoon together, Petty telling stories as he showed Jakes the various cars he won in throughout his multi-decade career. The evening ended with a dinner with Petty who enjoyed his time helping making Jakes dream come true.
“It’s not too hard taking time to show someone around and making something possible that they didn”t know if it was or not,” said Petty. “We just sort of talked and showed him everything we had here. He smiled the entire time. I think he felt my age when he left!”
The Foundation was more than happy to help Jakes.
“We just felt like this was a wonderful gentleman who had a simple wish,” said Rebecca Moffit, Executive Director of the Petty Family Foundation. “He had great spirit and was full of life from the moment he arrived to the time he left. We were happy to make a dream come true.”