Watch as Richard Petty’s 1987 Pontiac NASCAR stock car is brought back to life

Petty's Garage

Waking up a long-stored car is almost never boring. Some of us do it every year with our own fun cars. That is just one car though, and more than likely the process is pretty simple because street cars are often easy to store and wake up.

Race cars on the other hand have all kinds of problems that can pop up since they were never engineered to sit. They were built to do the opposite. So how hard is it to get a pickled NASCAR stock car back up to ready-to-race condition? The Richard Petty Museum staff recently woke up the 1987 Pontiac Grand Prix that Petty raced nearly 40 years ago and brought everyone along for the adventure via YouTube.

Waking a car like this tends to go one of two ways: Quite simple and easy, or a mental torture test of small thing after small thing cropping up preventing any steady forward progress. Restoration manager for the Petty Museum Brian Witcher easily rattles off what tasks were done on the car but that nine seconds of audio is radically different than actually completing the tasks.

For instance, the video starts with Witcher reassembling the fuel cell. Safety measures can have odd side effects when put into storage. Fuel cell foam is the prime example of this as it is possible for the foam that was meant to keep fuel from sloshing and spilling will break down during long periods of sitting and then clog a fuel filter or pump. Hardware doesn’t tend to loosen up just sitting, but considering this Petty Blue racer is headed for the Goodwood hill climb it’s worthwhile to take the extra step of putting the car up on a lift and checking everything front to back one good time. They are likely camouflaging a suspension tuneup under the guise of a “nut and bolt check” but that’s fine by us.

This car has a small-block Chevy that is likely in the 357 cubic inch range and makes north of 600 horsepower. It certainly sounds great through the boom tubes tucked tidily right under the rocker panels. What doesn’t fit as well is Witcher in the driver’s seat. Nothing points out how tailor-fit these cars are quite like someone other than who it was built for attempting to drive it. Regardless, we at least get to see the car run a few laps of the parking lot to shake down the chassis and get some temperature into that fire-breathing small-block. We will have to wait until the video from Goodwood Festival of Speed comes out to see it run with the throttle anywhere near wide open, but even just a taste is nice. It’s also good to know that even the pros face the same problems as us common folks when it comes to bringing cars out of storage. His is just capable of 190mph when it does. Mine, not so much.


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    I was prepared to criticize that action but then remembered it’s likely just water or something that is okay to dump on the ground since this car still sees time on surfaces where easy clean up is required for safety.

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