Arruzza High Performance Arruzza High Performance
119 Cardinal Crest Court, Pittsboro NC 27312
John Arruzza - 919-918-7584
www.ArruzzaHighPerformance.com

The Pettys

Me and RichardIn the 80’s I always had Hemi engines in stock and ready to go. I received a phone call from a fellow who said he worked for Richard Petty and wanted to come see about some Hemi engines. I truly thought it was a gag.

The next day , I was , of all things , sand blasting behind my shop , getting suspension parts reday to paint for one of my cars and who rolls up. A van loaded with guys in STP shirts. They proceeded to tell me Richard was building a 36 Dodge sedan delivery and needed a hemi custom built, no problem. I drew up a quote for a crossram induction 426 Hemi with all the best, as only Richard would have , I was asked about an engine I had on a stand. It was a NOS NASCAR 404 Cubic inch Hemi I had just finished blueprinting and building. I told them what the deal was and they said”Richard will take that one also “.

It was very exciting. So I got to build Richard a crossram engine and a street hemi engine with an in-line dual quad intake ready also , dressed out with a NASCAR engine plate I purchased from my friend Cotton Owens. I have been very proud to see that engine in many photos taken at the Richard Petty museum over the years. Especially family photos. That particular Hemi always seems to make it into the photo.

Engines

Funny story about the 404, I didn’t know it till about a year later. Dale Earnhart was going to have a 36 Plymouth built and Everyone thought it was going to be quite funny sticking Dale with a “small” motor. They were not going to mention it till the Plymouth was done and surely that would have been something to rib Dale about . Richard and Dale were very close friends and it was all good natured fun. Richard Petty has always been a gentleman , a class act on and off the track .

I got an inside view of where some of that came from when I spent a few afternoons with his father Lee Petty. Truly an awe inspiring man . Very quick witted , super knowledgable . I was very impressed with Mr. Petty. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree in regards to Richard or his brother , engine master craftsman Maurice. Lee said to me “ so you only build Hemis “ ? I said yes sir. He said “ I’ve built a few Hemi’s in my day” and I told him I knew he had. I asked him , Who got the better hemi , the moonshiners or the revenuers ? With special look in his eye Lee said to me “ If the law got a better Hemi , don’t you think I would have put myself out of business “? Common sence , plain and simple. One thing I didn’t expect, Mr. Petty was a very big dude , I can tell you If he wanted to intimidate , that was not really a problem for him. I was blessed to meet Richard and his father Lee .

Poste Petty Clan

Meeting Maurice Petty was a learning experience. Richard won 200 races , Maurice built 199 of those engines. When you enter “chiefs” race shop , the first thing to strike you is the HUGE engine builder of the year NASCAR trophys. And Chief has won a bundle of them. Maurice showed me all around the shop, he was building all of Dodges Craftsman truck series engines at the time. The engine dyno wasn’t surrounded by bullet proof glass and brick walls, it was right in the middle of the shop , with the console literally 10 feet from the engine . As Maurice put it” that engines not coming apart “.

Lee Petty and Me When the Hemi was outlawed Chrysler spent some time trying Hemi blocks with Stage 3 max wedge heads , Chief turned those engines 10,000 RPM’s on his dyno seeing if there was a way not to have to go to the small block. Problem was Petty enterprises only had 2 sets of max wedge heads , 1 good set and a spare set . That pretty much killed that avenue.

I was lucky enough to be asked if I would freshen Lee Pettys’ last race engine, The one in the car when he went over the wall which almost killed him and ended his spectacular racing career. The old 413 Had seen better days but came out nicely, the exhaust manifolds were made strictly for Mr. Petty by Chrysler. Overall working with the Petty family has been nothing but a pleasure and from Lee and Miss Petty all the way through the generations they are fine people through and through .

413 before
413 Before
413 Done
413 Done
Arruzza High Performance
119 Cardinal Crest Court, Pittsboro NC 27312
John Arruzza - 919-918-7584
www.ArruzzaHighPerformance.com
Arruzza High Performance