Happy 76th birthday to "The King" of racing...Richard Petty. Even if you are not a NASCAR fan, you have probably seen pictures of Petty. His trademark sunglasses and cowboy hat combined with the pale blue STP car are brands that stand out beyond the auto racing community.

.Petty may be also known for his spectacular crash in the 1988 Daytona 500.

Richard Petty (Getty Images)

In just about every NASCAR documentary, there is at least one or two mentions of the crash that could have taken Petty's life. Eve before the major safety improvements that NASCAR has made in recent years, Petty survived a wreck at over 200 miles an hour that disintegrated that car he was driving.

In 2000, Petty's grandson Adam was killed in a crash in New Hampshire. His throttle was stuck wide open into Turn 3, and the impact killed the young Petty.

One of the most unique aspects of auto racing is the invocation prior to the race as well as the drivers being joined by their immediate family prior to the command to start engines. Even though many safety measures have been implemented, there is always a chance that the worst could happen.