Blevins Is The King Of Richard Petty Fans

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Jason Blevins' love of Richard Petty shows through in everything he does.

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To say Jason Blevins is a Richard Petty fan is sort of like saying Petty was a good race car driver. It just isn’t emphatic enough.

When it comes to driving stock cars, Petty is the King. When it comes to being a Petty fan, the same can be said for Blevins.

If you’ve ever been to a function at the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman, N.C., you may well have seen Blevins. Or a Petty autograph session around a race weekend in Martinsville? Blevins was there. He may have been sporting the Charlie One-Horse cowboy hat like Petty wears, or a Richard Petty Motorsports pit crew shirt. Or you may have seen him off in a corner chatting with the King.

“When I was a kid growing up, he was the first driver I ever heard of, and that just stuck with me,” said the 42-year-old Blevins who grew up and still lives a few miles from Martinsville Speedway.

While Blevins is foremost a Petty enthusiast, he is a NASCAR fanatic. If a race car cranks at Martinsville Speedway, he will be there.

“Testing. Qualifying. Practice. Everything or anything at Martinsville and I’m there,” said Blevins.

For the first time in almost three decades, Blevins was noticeably absent from the 2014 STP 500. It wasn’t by choice.

It was in early March of last year when Blevins felt terrible, really terrible all day at work. It got worse on the way home.

“I just felt awful. I went and picked my wife (Sondra) up at work and the closer we got to the house, the stomach pain got bad, bad, bad. Then when we got home, it was even worse,” said Blevins.

He had been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease a decade earlier and he figured that was the source of the problem. Then he collapsed to the floor of their home.

“My bowels had perforated. They had to rush me into surgery that night here in Martinsville,” said Blevins.

It got worse though.

“When they did the surgery, the found out I had colorectal cancer. That was a blessing in disguise.”

The surgery wasn’t easy. The doctors said “they lost me on the table” but managed to revive him.

“Then it was one thing after another. They shipped me to Roanoke (to another hospital), and on the way, I about died. Then I went into acute respiratory failure and about died. Then I got a bad blood infection and almost died. I’ve been through it for sure.”

Doctors couldn’t attack the site of the cancer until he healed from the first surgery. He had radiation treatments to shrink the tumor and then the surgery, which left him with an ostomy bag for life, news that he handled in an upbeat fashion.

“When the doctor told me it was permanent, I said it was a small price to pay to watch your kids grow up,” he said, referring to daughters Alyssa and Brianna.

He underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy, which just recently ended. He lost almost 70 pounds. He was hospitalized for five months. He was forced to retire from work. And he still wears a smile most of the time.

“My chemo doctor said he would never have thought I would get to the point where we could do the chemo,” said Blevins. “It has been amazing. It’s a miracle.”

Just a week out of the hospital, Blevins showed up for a Sprint Cup test session at Martinsville, albeit in a wheel chair, pushed by Darrell Hall, one of his racing buddies.

He was strong enough to make it to the Richard Petty Fan Club meeting last fall and was a bit surprised the King was aware of his struggles.

“I went over and talked to him and told him I just got out of the hospital to come to this and he said ‘oh, yeah, everybody has been keeping me informed on how you are doing’,” recalled Blevins.

“I was getting ready to walk off and he (Petty) pulled his glasses down on his nose so I could see his eyes and he said ‘now you do everything your doctors tell you to do … you hear me’?”

Blevins has taken the King’s advice. That means a lot of time on his hands as he slogged through months of chemo and days of weakness and recovery from each treatment. He has found a great deal of solace though in attacking one of his Petty passions: building replicas of the King’s race cars.

“I actually built some models 10 to 15 years ago. Since I retired, I’ve gotten back into it. It drives Sondra crazy because I keep the kitchen table a mess.

“I’ve probably built 10 or 15 of Richard’s cars. I’m working on a Super Bird at the house now,” said Blevins.

Blevins’ models are works of art, perfect in every detail. As a race car is built from the ground up in a shop, his models are built in the same manner in his family home. The smallest detail, like race day initials on the Goodyear tires signifying “right front” or “left front” don’t escape him

One of his favorites is Petty’s 1972 Plymouth, STP’s first year with Petty. His next project is the 1999 Pontiac John Andretti drove to victory for Petty at Martinsville, the last time an STP-sponsored car won on the half-mile track.

Most of his models are adorned with the King’s autograph, as are about 80 die cast version of Petty cars he has collected.

“My whole family has always been racing fans. Growing up, my dad was a Dale Earnhardt fan. My  mom liked Mark Martin,” said Blevins. “My sister liked Earnhardt and I’ve always been a Richard Petty fan.

Not just a Richard Petty fan; the King of Richard Petty fans.

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