Doctor Who? Meet Dale Jr.'s doc
Dr. Jerry Petty is in the headlines today as the doctor treating Dale Earnhardt Jr. for his concussion, but he's been a part of NASCAR for decades.
NASCAR honored Petty with the Bill France NASCAR Award of Excellence in 2006 for a slate of work with drivers over the years. A release at the time outlined Petty's years of experience with NASCAR drivers.
“Dr. Petty certainly knows our sport, but more importantly, he knows the competitors and people who make up our sport,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton in a release at that time. “Everyone in NASCAR appreciates Dr. Petty’s commitment to our sport.”
“He carries that same kind of passion for the sport and all of the drivers out there because he wants to see it safe,” added four-time champion Jeff Gordon. “He’s a fan, so he uses his doctor skills and everything he knows and the knowledge he has because he wants to bring better care to the sport for all of the drivers.”
Petty, now 77, has treated NASCAR participants since 1968, the year he joined his Charlotte, N.C.-based practice. A Gastonia, N.C., native, he began his medical career in 1960 as an assistant neurological surgery resident at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Mo. He ended his tenure there as a senior resident in 1967, and joined Charlotte Neurosurgery and Spine Center in Charlotte, N.C., in 1968.
He has worked at Charlotte Motor Speedway at the infield care center over the years and has been a consultant in NASCAR’s medical liaison program since 2002.
Petty is a 1960 graduate of the University of North Carolina Medical School. He was also a captain in the U.S. Air Force’s medical corps from 1961-63. Petty has also served as a team physician for the Carolina Panthers.