During Saturday’s Throwback 276 at Hickory Motor Speedway, William Sawalich will be double-dipping.
The 15-year-old will compete in both the pro late model race and the main event — the late model stock car race. Both of his throwback schemes will have a 1980s flare.
While they also have a personal connection, his car for the Throwback 276 is getting the royal treatment.
Sawalich’s No. 43 car will bear the scheme that Richard Petty drove to his 200th and final NASCAR Cup Series win in the 1984 Firecracker 400 at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
“One of my numbers has always been 43,” Sawalich told SPEED SPORT. “If I had to choose, my number would be 43.”
How did the STP logos and colors come to be placed on his late model stock?
“I always have been a Richard Petty fan since we are family friends,” Sawalich said. “We asked Richard himself which scheme he wanted us to do. He said his 200th win. So he decided.”
It also helps when The King is hard of hearing. About once a year, Petty has to get new hearing aids.
“My grandfather’s company, he fit Richard with hearing aids,” said Sawalich, who sees Petty about “once a year, every time he comes into the office and gets a new set of hearing aids or we’ll go to some of his foundation dinners or go to some Victory Junction stuff.
“It’s still pretty special that you get to see him a couple of times a year.”
For his other throwback, the paint scheme inspiration comes from closer to home.
Sawalich’s No. 4 pro late model will pay tribute to one of his car owners and mentors, former NASCAR driver Dennis Setzer.
The No. 4 will evoke Setzer’s Orange Blossom Special, which he ran on a late model in 1983.
“First time I got in the late models was with (the Setzers last year),” Sawalich said. “They helped me a lot, with almost everything I know about driving late models because I came from Legends and it’s a whole new story and they helped me get up to speed pretty fast…
“(Setzer) really is a special person. He’s really humble. We try to kind of mess with him by either posting about him because he doesn’t like that, he wants to be humble and stay kind of quiet. So we thought we’d surprise him and do his paint scheme.”
Saturday’s Throwback 276 will be broadcast live by SPEED SPORT affiliate, CARSTour.tv.