Ted Chappell from Southern Pines, NC
Racing Ahead with My Old Buddy, Richard

Ted Chappell

    Mr. Ted is my dreamer!! He has been a resident of our community for almost 6 months. He is 86 years old and has been married to his wife, Sarah, for ages (60 years). He has 2 children and 4 grandchildren. He grew up in Perquimans County and worked on the farm with his parents as a young lad. He milked cows and knows how to do anything that has to do with farming. I love talking to him about that life because he tells it in great detail. 

   After living the farm life, he attended college and received his BS degree and MA degrees at East Carolina. His background consisted of teaching, coaching, Administration, and bus transportation. Ted enjoyed working with young children and he displayed that while working in the school system. After retiring, he continued to work in the school system by becoming the coach at the local high school. 

   For those who don’t know, Perquimans County is where the Hall of Fame pitcher, Jim “Catfish” Hunter, is from. In fact, Ted and Catfish both played for the State High School Championship baseball Team there.

   Mr. Ted has been a fan of Richard Petty since the 60’s.  As a matter of fact, his shadow box outside his room door is displayed with Richard Petty memorabilia. 

   One day while coaching at the High School, Ted overheard a boy boasting and bragging about how he had stolen a helmet that belonged to Richard Petty. Ted, being a huge fan of Richard and with his love for children, he retrieved the helmet from the boy and returned it back to Richard Petty!  That in itself gives me chills! Once I heard that story, it gave me the idea of bringing Ted and Mr. Petty together again. A lot of time may have passed, but I still I wanted to try to recapture that time and start a new memory for both of them.

  After trying really hard to reach someone at the Petty Museum, believe it or not, I had no luck!  I was just going to settle for taking him to the museum on Wednesday, October 25th and make the best out of it. Well….a few days before going to the museum, on October 21st, a potential family toured our community. A walk-in tour to be exact. I was working as the Manager On Duty, that weekend and was available to give the tour. As the tour was ending and we were talking about the Gallery of Dreams Wall, I started talking about the upcoming dream of going to the Petty Museum in just a few days. I kept talking about how I could not contact anyone, even after many phone calls and emails trying to get a meeting date with Richard Petty. Well, the lady on the tour said to me, “Well I may be able to help you with this”.  She continued on to say that her best friend was friends with the Petty family, or she worked there. Something along those lines. I was excited!! I gave her my email address and she contacted me the very next day!! We set up the dream to meet with Richard Petty on October 26th at 1:30!!

   Ted and his wife rode with me to the museum, which is only about 1 hour away from our community. I had explained to Ted about our trip and he was somewhat excited, he would talk in bits and pieces about Richard and his racing. As we got closer to the museum, he seemed to show signs of being familiar with the area.

   Once we arrived at the museum, and we were exiting the car, Ted said: “ Yall go ahead in”….LOL. 

   Mr. Petty met us on time, Ted was very calm. I sensed that Mr. Petty was a total gentleman and wanted to be on his best behavior with his biggest fan! They chatted and Ted explored all the memorabilia throughout the museum. He really enjoyed that meeting with Richard Petty and today, I still hear bits and pieces of how his dream came true!!!  


  • Location
  • Southern Pines, NC