It’s good to be the king – especially in North Carolina, where the new state budget gives The King a quarter of a million dollars.
Richard Petty, who earned his royal nickname for his dominance in NASCAR, runs a custom car shop in Randolph County that will get $250,000 in renovations paid for by the state government in the next year.
Petty, 79, is a Randolph County native who remained in his home state in the years after his retirement from racing. He has been involved in business and Republican politics, and the budget Republican lawmakers just passed includes $250,000 for Petty to expand his business, Petty’s Garage.
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“They’ve grown slowly but now they’re at a point where they’ve really got some momentum,” said Bonnie Renfro, president of the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation.
The money won’t go straight into Petty’s pockets. The grant recipient is the county economic development group, via the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Rural Economic Development Division.
Petty’s racing team was worth $48 million as of February, according to Forbes.
But Renfro said the grant program doesn’t consider the wealth of the people behind a particular project. Instead, she said, the funding is tied to the number of jobs and its effect on the local tax base.
What the money is for
Petty’s Garage plans to more than double its current workforce, from 33 to 68 people, and invest more than $2 million of its own money into the expansion. Renfro said the 35 new jobs will pay an average salary above $46,000, “which is considerably higher than Randolph County’s average wage.”
Petty’s Garage started in 2009, Renfro said, and has recently seen a large uptick in business. In 2015 Petty’s Garage made headlines when Brian Johnson, the AC/DC lead singer and race car enthusiast, ordered a custom, 627-horsepower, electric blue Mustang.
There’s a monthslong waiting list now, and Renfro said the shop has had to outsource some engine-building work to Virginia.
This grant will let it bring those jobs back to North Carolina, Renfro said, and also expand a custom paint shop at the garage – which is located next to the Richard Petty Museum. It’s all in Level Cross, a tiny community half an hour south of Greensboro.
Best known for his accomplishments on the racetrack, Petty also has political experience. He was the Republican nominee for N.C. secretary of state in 1996, although he lost to Democrat Elaine Marshall.
Petty’s Garage got about 30 percent of the $835,000 the state budget gives the Rural Economic Development Division for grants this coming year.
The other grants it gave out are $200,000 for a development in Brevard; $180,000 for various Burke County projects; $100,000 to rehabilitate the Washington harbor; $75,000 for a farmer’s market in Edenton; and $30,000 for a textiles museum in Alamance County.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran