Moffitt Learning In School And In Race Shop

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 1 2018

Young Thad Moffitt will make his Pocono debut this weekend.

At age 17, Thad Moffitt is on the threshold of his stock car racing career, learning his profession and dealing with school simultaneously.

During the week the Trinity, N.C., teenager works at Mooresville, N.C.-based Empire Racing from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., and then attends school online at night and while he’s at the race track.  

“They’re trying to teach me to do everything,” Moffitt said in regards to his work in the race shop. “I’ve learned to fabricate. I can do suspension parts. I can hang suspension. I’m not very good on the setup plate yet, but I’m getting there. I kinda think it helps me a little bit because I understand what’s going on in my race car a little bit more whenever I have to put this stuff together myself.”

Even though the red-haired Moffitt is still learning race car construction, he already handles the media with maturity. Of course, when he smiles one understands his ease with which he handles public notoriety. It’s that familiar Petty smile. Moffitt is Richard Petty’s grandson; an aspiring driver who’s expected to earn his way in the sport and develop his own driving style.

“He (Richard Petty) wants me to learn my own driving style in my own way,” Moffitt said. “He told me it’s better to be consistently slow than to be really fast for one lap and then be slow. He told me if I was going to run a one lap time, then he wanted me to run it 100 laps in a row; be consistent. He preaches consistency to me until I learn more about these cars and how to race them.”

Unlike many, Moffitt didn’t start racing in Quarter Midgets. His family purchased a Quarter Midget with that intent, but when he was 10 years old his maternal grandmother, Lynda Petty, was diagnosed with cancer. That put his racing aspirations on hold for four years since his parents were focused on caring for his grandmother and working at Richard Petty Motorsports. Once Moffitt could again turn his attention to racing his family acquired a Go-Kart since he had outgrown the Quarter Midget. After a single season in Go-Kart racing, he moved into a late model stock car. In 2016, Moffitt captured the Southeast Limited Late Model championship. Now he’s transitioning into ARCA with his eyes on NASCAR’s Xfinity Series for 2020. The move into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will come when “everybody thinks I’m ready.”

Moffitt has attended the Bondurant and Skip Barber racing schools, but has yet to add any dirt racing experience to his resume. It’s something he would like to do later this year or in 2019 in Modifieds and Micro Sprints.  

This weekend Moffitt makes his Pocono debut. It’s the first time the fourth-generation driver has competed on any track larger than a half-mile, and he turned to his uncle, Kyle Petty, for advice.

“He said the biggest thing was getting off of turn three, because that frontstretch is so long that if I don’t get off good … there’s no way I can make up time on the straightaway,” said Moffitt, who was eighth and 13th quickest in Wednesday’s two ARCA open practices. “He said don’t worry about getting into (turn) three, it’s all about getting off of (turn) three. With the tunnel turn, he said I needed to get back into it (accelerator) before you think you can (in qualifying).”

Moffitt noted he talks constantly with his uncle because he’s “driven more modern (race) cars than Grandpa.”

“Grandpa didn’t have power steering for half of his career so a lot of the stuff that he says doesn’t really relate to the way the cars drive nowadays,” Moffitt continued.

Moffitt believes there’s less pressure on him from media and fans because his last name isn’t Petty. However, he feels pressure to perform the way his family has performed in the past. His great grandfather, grandfather, great uncle and cousin are all NASCAR Hall of Fame members. Lee and Richard Petty possess a total of 10 NASCAR championships and 254 Cup victories.

“We’ve always been winning races for as long as I can remember,” Moffitt said. “So I feel like that’s kinda my job to carry on that tradition, but the family never really put any pressure on me at any point in my career. It’s always been just myself putting pressure on myself; my own choices.”

Moffitt said more people believe he’s related to NASCAR driver Brett Moffitt than Richard Petty.

It wasn’t until 2010 at the Daytona 500 that Moffitt suddenly realized he could one day race in the prestigious event that his family’s race team has won nine times. The Quarter Midget was purchased when they returned to North Carolina following that event and suddenly baseball, football and basketball no longer interested him.

“When I started racing stock cars … it was all over with,” the personable Moffitt said. “Those cars are so fun to drive and it came so natural. I knew I would love to do this the rest of my life.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, June 1 2018
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