The best news around Level Cross and Randleman these days is that the dream has come true. The Victory Junction Gang Camp is open, and life for some special children will get a lift.
The camp serves as a retreat for seriously ill children and is built in honor of Adam Petty, my grandson. It is the seventh such camp in the network of Hole in the Wall Gang Camps, founded for kids by actor Paul Newman. This camp joins camps in New York, California, Florida, Connecticut, Ireland, and France. The camp in Level Cross is located on what was Petty property. It isn't hard to find; just follow the signs.
The project began four years ago, and it has taken about $23 million to reach this point. The ribbon cutting was carried out by the crewmen on Adam's team when he was racing at New Hampshire on the day in 2000 when he was killed
Mike Easley, governor of North Carolina, was present for the ribbon cutting, as well as Newman, NASCAR President Mike Helton, and several race car drivers and racing folks in general. We are grateful to everyone who has helped make this dream come true, and we are hoping to get more people involved as we go along.
It is a 75-acre campground that we think has most everything to make life better for seriously ill children.
We lost one of our best-ever former presidents this year when Ronald Reagan passed away. It doesn't seem that long ago when he came to Daytona Interna- tional Speedway to see a race, and it happened to be the day I claimed my 200th victory. In fact, it was the last race I won, and that was on July 4, 1984.
I was driving a Pontiac for team owner Mike Curb. I had left Petty Enterprises after the '83 season and joined Curb. I won the 199th race of my career at Dover in May of 1984. That gave Curb his first victory as a team owner.
I wanted that 200th victory, and I thought it was never coming. In the four races following my 199th win, my best finish was 13th at Pocono. Twice I didn't even finish.
That was a big day in Daytona as Reagan was the first president to attend a race. We knew the president was on his way to Daytona, and at 10 a.m. on July 4, he gave the command to fire the engines via telephone from Air Force One en route to the speedway.
Cale Yarborough and I were battling for the lead when Air Force One landed right behind Turn 2 at about 11:30 that morning. The airport at Daytona is located right beside the speedway.