Racing royalty relocating to Rowan? Petty Enterprises chief says company considering move

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Paris Goodnight

Salisbury Post

Just as Toyota decides to manufacture racing chassis in Salisbury, now there’s talk of Petty Enterprises leaving the team’s hallowed grounds near Randleman for a spot in Rowan County.

Petty Enterprises officials quietly discussed moving the operation a few years ago, but this time they’re more concrete with plans.

“In order for us to look forward, we’re going to have (to) go and get a better location,” said Robbie Loomis, executive vice president of racing operations at Petty Enterprises, according to a report in Wednesday’s USA Today. “That’s from the press, from the sponsors being able to get in and out and being able to have a bigger pool of people to choose from as far as mechanics and engineers.”

Randy Harrell of the Salisbury-Rowan Economic Development Commission said nothing is definite about the move, but he had received other inquiries from television stations about the USA Today report.

A message left Wednesday for Loomis at Petty Enterprises wasn’t returned.

Loomis told USA Today that the Level Cross compound’s mystique compares to that of the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field.

Level Cross is where Richard Petty was born and where preparations for some 260 NASCAR victories were made. But the campus near Randleman may no longer be competitive because of its distance from other racing operations.

In Wednesday’s report, Loomis said the team has considered moving operations to the “Salisbury/Charlotte” area to be closer to the hub of NASCAR and its personnel and technology.

Richard Petty, the seven-time NASCAR champion, told the paper that the move might need to come sooner rather than later.

“A big fancy building is not going to make the car run any better. This building is plenty good enough to build winning race cars. The big deal is just being in the location and having to suck it up and say, ‘OK, guys, it’s time for a change.’ ”

Petty Enterprises is in a 60,000-square-foot high-tech racing facility in Level Cross now. Kyle Petty drives the No. 45 car for the team and Bobby Labonte drives the team’s No. 43 car. Labonte also was a driving force in getting the local N.C. Quarter Midget Association race track built off Interstate 85 at Peach Orchard Road.

Contact Paris Goodnight at 704-797-4255 or pgoodnight@