This weekend, the Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) No. 43 Ford driven by Aric Almirola will once again showcase the black and "Petty blue" colors of the Smithfield paint scheme designed by longtime Richard Petty super fan Kevin Gates. The scheme, featured earlier this yearat the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the All-Star race, will once again be on the track this weekend at Watkins Glen International Speedway.
Gates, who has been a Richard Petty devotee for more than 25 years, used his graphic design skills to create an updated paint scheme for the legendary RPM car. On a whim, he sent the sketch to RPM sponsor Smithfield Foods who, in turn, decided to make his vision a reality by updating the scheme to reflect his design. The car then raced at the All-Star race in May at Charlotte. It now returns to the track this weekend and the base scheme will be used for the remainder of the Smithfield-sponsored race events in 2012. The opportunity to see his scheme on the track has been a dream come true for the humble 27-year-old Connecticut native.
"We at Smithfield have been excited to be able to showcase Kevin Gates' great work on the RPM No. 43 car this season and again this weekend at Watkins Glen," said Will Brunt, Vice President of Marketing. "The passion and enthusiasm racing fans possess is inspiring and is one of the many things we love about this sport. We are thrilled to be able to reward a lifetime racing fan in this manner."
"Designing the car has been an overwhelming experience for me," said Kevin Gates. "I'm extremely grateful for the opportunity Smithfield has given me. This is a dream come true for a fan like myself and it's been awesome to see this car race on the track. To know that I had a part in the process of creating the King's car is undoubtedly one of the stand alone highlights of my life."
"Smithfield started looking at their paint scheme and told us that one of our fans had created something they really liked," said Richard Petty, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. "We looked at it too and thought he did a pretty good job so we decided to check it out under the lights during the All-Star race. Everyone seemed to like it so we'll bring it out in the day this weekend at Watkins Glen."
Gates' affinity for "The King" goes beyond just his skills on the racetrack; he also shares Petty's passion for charity with special needs and chronically ill children. Gates' own younger brother Scott was diagnosed with a very rare chromosome disorder at birth and has served as an inspiration and blessing in Gates' life. He greatly admires and supports Petty's Victory Junction Gang Camp, a camp that provides life-changing experiences for kids with lasting medical conditions or serious illnesses, for providing these children with a place to enjoy themselves and gain self-confidence.