WITH EIGHT wins in 814 starts, Kyle Petty won't be remembered for his exploits on the track. Instead, his legacy will be the 72 wooded acres in Randleman, N.C., that make up Victory Junction Gang Camp. Petty and his wife, Pattie, started the retreat for children with chronic conditions or serious illnesses three years ago in memory of their son, Adam, who had just begun to plan the camp before he was killed in 2000 at age 19 during a Busch Series practice session at New Hampshire. "Adam planted the seed," says Kyle, 47. "Once that was there, maybe his job here was done."
Victory Junction relies solely on donations to cover its $6 million annual cost, which includes expenses for each of the 2,374 campers (about $2,500 per child per week). In addition to more than $100,000 per year from Kyle, a who's who of NASCAR has chipped in to help the camp to become the largest of its kind in the world, accommodating children who suffer from a range of 26 illnesses. One of Victory Junction's most enthusiastic endorsers is 11-year-old Hank Grissom (near left, with brother Cal) from McAdenville, N.C., who has attended its five-day spina bifida session every summer since 2004. Despite his condition, Hank has pursued his passions for archery and fishing and has never come home with so much as a sunburn. "Kyle has created a whole engine of care and concern and charity," says Hank's father, Robbie. "The place almost has a life of its own."