From Coors Light to Mello Yello to Capital One, NASCAR legend Kyle Petty has promoted many names while on the track. However, this past weekend, the driver of number 42 advertised his own talents on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, Tenn. With an acoustic guitar in hand, Petty performed his original song, “Hard Times.”
NASCAR Driver Steps on Stage
Now known for his eight Winston Cup victories and talented voice, Kyle Petty’s journey to stardom in two industries began in 1987. According to NASCAR’s official site, the driver first set foot on a big stage while opening Janie Fricke concert in Virginia. The crowd demanded an encore after his performance, but the budding star only knew ten songs at the time.
The following Sunday, Petty made even more headlines with his victory in the Coca-Cola 600—just two days after his debut performance.
Petty’s stage talent turned a few record producers’ heads, and the legendary NASCAR driver had the opportunity to pursue music as a career. However, Petty didn’t have any interest in signing a contract.
“So all of a sudden, there were two jobs, and I never wanted a job, period — zero. No job,” Petty said. “And I felt like driving a race car wasn’t a job, and I didn’t want music to become where I despised it or resented it because it was a job, because I enjoy it so much. So I kind of put one on the shelf for a while and said, you know, maybe I can come back to that later.”
Understandably, Petty wanted his music to remain as something he enjoyed—nothing more. So he continued racing for almost 20 more seasons, all the while still writing songs and singing in his free time.
Petty Reminds Us of ‘Harder Times’
Now that Kyle Petty has hung up his racing suit for good, he’s able to give more attention to the other love in his life—music.
All of Petty’s original songs seem to follow the same sense of genuineness and humility of a hardworking man, including the song he performed at the Grand Ole Opry, “Hard Times.” A tribute to the more difficult moments in life, Petty’s lyrics tell the story of a foreclosed house that was once a home and a man on the streets with “Everything he owns in a backpack/Lays by his feet on the ground.”
It’s easy to see that the former NASCAR racer is comfortable with his place on stage. The swells and vibrato of his notes all come easily, and he looks to the crowd with the same emotion they hear in his song. A true performer, he keeps his audience hanging on his every word.
Although we may no longer see Kyle Petty in his classic #42 car, his performance this past weekend is an indication that we haven’t seen—or heard—the last of him. The only question is where his next performance will be.