Kyle Petty is accustomed to being in the driver's seat, but the NASCAR veteran is happy to have his wife Pattie steering the activities of the Victory Junction Gang Camp, one of the charities supported by Sound & Speed, an event zooming into downtown Nashville for a second year.
Taking place Friday and Saturday (Jan. 12-13), Sound & Speed brings country music and NASCAR fans together with celebrities from the worlds of music and racing for autograph sessions, interviews, a major concert and more. In addition to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, the Pettys' charity that serves children with serious illnesses, Sound & Speed also benefits charities of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
"My wife Pattie is here every day," Petty told CMT.com during a phone call from the camp located south of Greensboro, N.C. "She pretty much runs everything. She's the CEO and the person in charge and the visionary on how she wants things to look and how she wants things to be. So, for us, it's very personal."
The couple founded the Victory Junction Gang Camp in memory of their son, Adam Petty, who was killed in a racing accident six years ago. The facility provides exciting, fun and empowering life-changing camping experiences for children with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. The camp opened June 24, 2004, and 600 campers passed through the doors that first summer. Approximately 2,800 attended in 2006.
"The camp was originally built ... to accommodate [kids in] North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and parts of eastern Tennessee. ... Then all of a sudden, Tony Stewart becomes a founding member, Michael Waltrip donates money. ...We're racing all over the country, so the NASCAR community got behind it. Once the NASCAR community got behind it, it became less of a regional camp and more of a national camp."
Richard and Lynda Petty, Kyle's parents, gave 70 acres from their property for the camp.
"My father is here all the time," relates Kyle. "He's here a lot more than I am. During the summertime, I'm here almost every Monday and Tuesday. I was able, this past year, to come to my first family weekend because we were off a weekend, finally."
Open year round, the camp offers 19 family weekends during the fall and spring and 10 week-long summer sessions. Campers and their families attend camp at no charge.
"It's not only an emotional burden for the family [to care for an ill child], it's a financial burden on the family, so we pay for them to come to camp," Petty explains. "It costs us somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,800 a child to come to camp because we also furnish medicine. We furnish travel."
All funding for the camp is from donations.
"Guys like Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Kevin Harvick ... guys like that have been a huge part of it," Petty says. "Along with them, companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Sealy Mattress, companies like that, have been huge. But more importantly ... one reason we're having the event like we're having, the Sound & Speed event, is the fans. The fans have been the ones to really keep the camp up and running."
Numerous activities will be held over the two days in various venues with the majority being held in the Gaylord Entertainment Center.
A Saturday night concert features Jo Dee Messina, with fellow artists Josh Turner and Rodney Atkins. Other artists participating in the two-day festival include Trace Adkins, Joe Nichols, Craig Morgan, Aaron Tippin, Trent Willmon, Ray Scott, Aaron Benward of Blue County, Ashley Monroe, John Anderson, Ray Stevens, Brenda Lee, Mel Tillis, Bill Anderson and model Niki Taylor.
Drivers scheduled to appear throughout the weekend include Richard Petty, Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Bobby Hamilton Jr., David Stremme, Bobby LaBonte, Kertus Davis, Aric Almirola, Ernie Irvan, Cale Yarborough, Richard Childress, Rex White and Junie Donlavey.
More than 20 NEXTEL Cup series show cars will be on display. Among them will be the new Toyota Camrys that will be debuting this season (No. 44 UPS and No. 55 Napa Auto Parts). Other cars include the No. 8 Budweiser, No. 22 Caterpillar, No. 1 Bass Pro Shops, No. 9 Dodge, No. 20 Home Depot, No. 01 Army, No. 2 Miller, No. 31 Cingular, No. 29 Shell, No. 07 Jack Daniel's, No. 3 GM, No. 38 M&M's, No. 77 Dollar General and the Grand Am No. 10 SunTrust Daytona Prototype.
Richard Petty's No. 43 that won the 198th race of his 200-win career, Dale Earnhardt's 1980 Bristol-winning No. 3 GM and Adam Petty's No. 55 Spree car will also be on display.
Gears and Guitars, an auction featuring music and racing memorabilia, will take place Friday afternoon. Free food and beverages, a performance by a country music artist and a visit from a NASCAR driver highlight the auction. Later Friday, the Honky Tonk Pit Stop will provide patrons with a club crawl among the bars on Nashville's Lower Broadway.
In addition to the concert featuring Messina, Turner and Atkins, Saturday's activities include exhibits, autograph sessions and a Q&A session with NASCAR drivers and country music artists. Three hour-long storytelling sessions with NASCAR and country music legends will also take place Saturday at the Ryman Auditorium.
Tickets for Sound & Speed are available at the Gaylord Entertainment Center box office.