The Kyle Petty Charity Ride is back for its 26th anniversary after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19. More than 200 motorcycle riders will travel across the southwest while raising money for children in need, and they will take part in the biggest event yet.
The Kyle Petty Charity Ride will take place from April 30 – May 6. The 225 riders will start in Phoenix and then travel through Arizona and into Utah before returning to Phoenix. There will be several stops along the way where fans can meet special guests in Richard Petty, Harry Gant, Donnie Allison, Hershel McGriff, Ken Schrader, and Rick Allen.
The purpose of the charity ride is to raise money and awareness for Victory Junction, a camp dedicated to providing life-changing camping experiences for children with serious medical illnesses. The 2019 iteration of the ride raised $1.7 million and sent 128 children to Camp at no cost to their families. Now Kyle Petty is ready to take the ride to an entirely new level of success.
“It feels really good [to be back]” Petty told Heavy during a one-on-one interview. “Just the excitement that we have from the riders, the excitement that we’ve heard from Lake Havasu and Flagstaff and Bryce Canyon, the places we’re going. They’re pumped that people are coming back. So I think we’re all excited just to be back on the road and back doing what we like to do.”
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A key figure in planning for this return is Petty’s wife, Morgan. She has been in charge of putting the rides together since 2012 when she had a mere 45 days to figure out hotels, gas stops, and many other important details. Morgan put together a wildly successful trip, and now the latest ride will showcase over two years of planning.
“We have all told her the same thing. We’re expecting big things from this year’s ride,” Petty said. “But you know what? It’s every year. What she does and what they do, honestly, is over the top. And even though we’re married and I know everything she does, it still surprises me. Some of the dinners surprise me, some of the places that we stop, some of the special things that we do with different mayors from different cities and stuff is still a surprise.”
The Longtime Supporters Wasted No Time Getting Involved
With the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America having two years off, there were questions about how the supporters would respond once spots became available. They quickly provided the answer by flooding the inbox with applications.
The Kyle Petty Charity Ride account announced on January 10 that the application process had begun. 11 days later, the Kyle Petty Charity Ride revealed that every single spot was full. A massive group of riders had their spots secure for the seven-day trip across the southwest.
“A lot of people had been sitting there with their finger on send, waiting for it to open up so they could do it,” Petty said. “And I think it’s that two years of pent-up frustration that you weren’t able to go do stuff. You weren’t able to participate in those types of activities, you know, that group activity.
“So I think a lot of people were just ready to go do something, and this was something that had been on people’s list. And they were like, ‘You know what, I’ve been home for a year-and-a-half, for two years. Let’s do this.’ So this is probably the fastest it’s ever filled up.”
The applications were not the only way in which the riders showed their support. A large group also banded together during the COVID hiatus in order to provide continued support for Victory Junction. They recognized the importance of holding Camp, so they stepped up any way that they could.
“A large part of that was the riders,” Petty added. “The riders continued to give. … There’s a core group of probably 60-70 of us that have done this thing so many times we could do it [in our sleep]. We just know it. I mean, we’re just friends. We’ve just become that family.
“And that group really stepped up during COVID, where even though they couldn’t ride, they still make donations to Camp like they were riding. They still make donations to Camp like we were out there on the road doing our stuff.”
Petty Has 1 Important Destination in Mind
The 1,500-mile route will feature numerous picturesque parts of the southwestern United States. There will be stops in different parts of Arizona, as well as Utah. Though Petty has one specific destination in mind as his favorite stop.
Petty explained that he can’t wait to take the hundreds of riders to Monument Valley in Utah. They have explored the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Lake Havasu, and other popular destinations in that part of the United States, but the 2022 ride will provide an in-depth look at Monument Valley and its unique buttes.
“We’ve not really had an opportunity to go up around Monument Valley,” Petty said. “And I think when we go to Monument Valley — for this group of riders — when you stand there and you look out over the Mittens, and you look out over that valley…
“Then there’s a group of riders here that are huge Western fans. So when they see that every John Wayne movie they ever watched was filmed there, they’re just gonna freak out. And it is just such a cool area but at the same time so peaceful, so spiritual. I think it’s just going to be a place that touches everybody this year.”