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Former NASCAR driver leads motorcycle ride across country for charity

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Posted at 8:44 PM, May 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-05 08:57:17-04

CEDAR CITY, Utah - Former NASCAR driver Kyle Petty used to race cars around a track, now he’s leading 200 motorcycles across the country.

On Monday The Kyle Petty Charity Ride stopped in Cedar City for lunch. They’re on a 2,500-mile journey stretching from Santa Cruz, Calif. to Branson, Mo. This is the 21st year of the ride. Petty said he always enjoys coming through Utah.

“You have all this beautiful scenery and all of the stuff that goes on here,” Petty said. “We live back east where people live on top of each other and can be horse’s rear ends. It’s not that way in Utah.”

The charity ride is a fundraiser for Petty’s Victory Junction, a camp located in North Carolina that gives terminally ill children and their families to experience outdoor fun away from the hospital.

“We’ve seen 21,000 children and their families in the 11 years the camp has been open,” Petty said. “It was built in the memory of my oldest son, Adam, who was killed in a racing accident.”

Many of the riders are return travelers, but some like Gary Potassy are riding for the first time. He said it was something he’s always followed and now wanted to be involved.

“The people are amazing. The cause is amazing,” Potassy said.  It’s amazing to just look in front of you or behind and see 100 in front, 100 in back, everybody just in synchronization…”

One of the more challenging aspects of the ride is the logistics, trying to find hotel rooms and rest stops for these 200 riders. Petty said it ends up being quite easy, as the communities are so accepting.

“We come in here and take over a gas stop like this, and these people are like, ‘yeah, come on in.’ It’s like you’re family,” Petty said.

The parade of motorcycles is commanding as they stroll through town, police escorts along the way. Locals turned out to get photos and autographs.

NASCAR driver Matt Kenseth, NASCAR legends Harry Gant and Donnie Allison, and former NFL great Herschel Walker are among some of the others to fall in line. They say it’s not hard to say yes to the ride when they go through such beautiful scenery.

“I tell people, this is easier than getting hit,” Walker said. “All I do is get on the motorcycle and hold on and follow everyone else.”

The group ended Monday’s ride in Bryce Canyon. Tuesday they’ll ride to Moab.

More information on the Kyle Petty Charity ride and Victory Station can be found here: http://www.kylepettycharityride.com