NASCAR Hall of Famer Maurice Petty dies at 81

Engine builder Maurice Petty answers reporters' questions on his way to the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Jan. 29, 2014, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Petty joins his brother Richard Petty in the Hall. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone)

Legendary engine builder and NASCAR Hall of Fame member Maurice Petty died Saturday. He was 81.

The brother of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Richard Petty was Petty Enterprises’ chief engine builder as the team became one of the most dominant in NASCAR history. According to Richard Petty Motorsports, drivers recorded 212 Cup Series wins with engines built by Petty.

“The ‘Chief’ was one of the most talented mechanics in NASCAR history,” NASCAR CEO Jim France said in a statement. “He provided the power that helped Petty Enterprises define dominance in sports. While he was known for his work under the hood, Maurice played multiple ‘behind-the-scenes’ roles, doing whatever it took to help deliver his cars to Victory Lane. On behalf of the France family, I offer my condolences to the friends and family of Maurice Petty, a true NASCAR giant.”

Maurice Petty also drove in NASCAR and was a Daytona 500-winning crew chief. Petty made 26 career Cup Series starts as a driver and had seven top-five finishes and 16 top 10s. He was the crew chief for Pete Hamilton when Hamilton won the 1970 Daytona 500.

Petty was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014 and became the first engine builder to make the Hall thanks to his family’s success. While Richard got many of his 200 career Cup Series wins with engines built by his brother, Lee Petty also won dozens of races with engines built by his son. The patriarch of the Petty family won 54 races in his NASCAR career and the Pettys are the only family with three members in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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