If you read my article on the Bond Arms factory tour, you saw the cliffhanger at the end where I stated that we would be presenting a firearm to a famous person in the name of charity. Know this: while we presented the pistol at a NASCAR race, you do not have to be a fan to appreciate this article.
On Friday, October 31st of 2014 Gordon Bond (the proprietor of Bond Arms) and myself met up so that we could facilitate the donation of a firearm to a charitable organization. Unbeknownst to me, Gordon is also a gear-head and shares my passion for automobiles. After meeting at our rendezvous point we both headed to Texas Motor Speedway to get our credentials:
I rode on the back with this bag, filled to the brim with several Bond Arms products:
I must say that I was sweating bullets as we passed through checkpoint after checkpoint at a major sporting event as I clutched an arsenal in my left hand:
I believe someone may have been notified of our intentions, as it did not take long for us to pass under the track and enter the pit:
We continued on the path until we reached a section occupied by nothing but luxury tour buses, and when I say luxury I mean our driver told us the cost of our guy’s bus was 2.5 million dollars!
We dismounted from our golf cart and eagerly awaited our guy with the bag:
Of course I had to have Gordon get a photo of me in front of this bus:
And we were offered a refreshment, which of course the bus has in several places:
Also if you want to BBQ and watch TV outside, the bus has you covered there too!
After about 10 minutes of admiring the area, Gordon began telling some interested folks about his wares after they noticed his shirt. Just about everyone smiles when they see the brochure:
A few minutes pass when all of a sudden the area goes silent, and I couldn’t help but freeze up. This was it, it was time to meet a living legend:
We entered the coach and I was in awe of the interior, which is on par with even the most elegant homes I have been in:
Then it was time to get down to it. Gordon, myself, and none other than Richard Petty sat down and began to chat. I was in awe, as one of the greatest drivers in history and a man I looked up to in my childhood was present… and there I was, like a fly on the wall trying to appreciate the magnitude of this situation:
For you non-NASCAR guys, let me lay out a few facts about Mr. Petty:
- Petty is the accomplished driver in the history of NASCAR, with a record number of poles (127) and over 700 top-ten finishes in his 1,184 starts
- Petty raced from 1959 to 1992, a career spanning 5 decades
- The man was respected by all, and was famous for not leaving the track until everyone who wanted an autograph got one
- 8 years he was NASCAR’s “Most Popular Driver”
- Has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom
NASCAR today is noting like it was back when he started. Back then the sport was simple: men would take a car similar to the one your Dad drove and race for hours with minimal safety equipment. Open face helmets and a crude roll-bar were the barrier between the driver and injury:
In my opinion, the sport was purist at this time. Stock car racing was just that: factory stock cars driven by hardened men fought it out, lap after lap until a victor emerged. For a car to be legal in the sport, dealerships even had to sell a certain amount of them on the commercial market.
Petty described these early days to us; You hauled your own car, you made your own parts, and you drove like hell. That was all there was to it, and I can imagine the changes that he saw over his career were incredible. It is hard for me to understand how in just a few years, we have gone from showroom stock racers with minimal safety equipment to the super-sleek 800 horsepower ultra-light monsters of today.
Anyways, enough of the history lesson. We were there to present firearms, and present firearms we did. Gordon began showing off his pistols to Mr. Petty, and he was quite taken with them:
The man is as humble as can be, but as he examined the smorgasbord of pistols you could see the interest in his eyes:
So after he examined all the floor models it was time for the finale. Gordon had with us a very special edition Bond Arms .45/.410 that peaked Mr. Petty’s curiosity. Any gun that comes in such a fancy box is typically a fancy piece:
As Gordon opened the box to present the pistol, Richard’s face lit up like a Christmas tree:
He was almost afraid to handle the firearm. The engraving and gold inlay look fantastic, but Gordon wanted to make sure Mr. Petty got to handle the pistol:
We all agreed that the pistol was “too pretty to fire”, but Gordon brought out a surprise even I was not aware of. Mr. Bond presented an additional pistol that he intended to be a shooter!
As you can tell by the smile, the man was thrilled.
We talked guns for a while and Richard told us how the guns would be put on display inside the Petty Museum in Level Cross, North Carolina and being the nice guy that he is, offered us both a grand tour whenever we would like. I sincerely would like to take him up on that one day!
Gordon and I were both eager to get a photo with the man himself too:
But then of course something unexpected happened. Out of nowhere Petty pulled a box for Gordon to open. It contained something very special: Gordon’s very own “Petty hat”!
How could you pass up another photo op?
Luckily the hat fit Gordon just right and he grabbed his sunglasses to imitate The King:
If you are reading this Gordon, I am sorry but I believe that Mr. Petty pulls off that look a bit better than yourself.
Halloween of 2014 will always be a day a remember. I was fortunate enough to capture these spectacular events on camera and be a part of this wonderful meeting. The pistols donated to the museum will be viewable by all, and one day I would like to make the pilgrimage to see them again. As for those wondering, Richard’s reputation as a kind-hearted and humble man is well earned. His humility and congenial disposition shined brightly and it really was an honor to participate in this.