The 2022 ValleyStar Credit Union 300 at Martinsville Speedway served as a swan song for long-time competitor Timothy Peters.
A two-time winner of the prestigious event, Peters had been away from regular competition since the end of the 2021 season. He elected to team up with former NASCAR crew chief Marcus Richmond for one last opportunity to bring home another grandfather clock.
The effort resulted in a solid eighth-place finish for Peters, who described the entire weekend at Martinsville as an emotional farewell to the sport that has been a vital part of his life since the early days of his childhood.
“I’m never going to say never,” Peters said. “I wanted to scratch this itch, and R&S Race Cars accommodated me. The car had our old Bailey’s colors from back in the day and my father’s number. I wish we could have won, but the car is one piece, and [R&S Race Cars] can work on it ahead of the next one.”
RACING REFERENCE: Career NASCAR stats for Timothy Peters
Peters has found success in nearly every single car he has strapped into throughout his long career.
Along with countless Late Model Stock victories to his name, Peters became one of the most consistent competitors in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series during the 2010s by tallying 11 career victories, 10 of which came with Red Horse Racing.
When Red Horse Racing shut down in the middle of 2017, Peters primarily devoted his attention toward the development of Nelson Motorsports’ Late Model Stock operation, which visited Victory Lane in the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 that same year with Peters driving.
Peters believes he can still contend with all the major Late Model Stock frontrunners even at the age of 42. Despite this, the decision to take a step back from racing in 2022 came down to one simple factor: family.
Now a father of two, Peters took a job as a UPS delivery driver not long after the 2021 ValleyStar Credit Union 300. He has grown fond of his new occupation and said the most important benefit of the transition is being able to spend more time with the people he cares about the most.
“Racing was going ahead of my family, and I needed to get back to them,” Peters said. “I was missing beauty pageants, baseball games and cheerleading events. I wanted to be with them and see it all. My kids are 9 and 7 years old, and I’ve seen them more over the past year since we brought them home from the hospital.
“There is life after racing, but that’s all I’ve known since I was five.”
Even though he enjoys seeing his kids grow up, Peters knew he needed some form of proper closure with auto racing. He got in touch with Richmond about the possibility of competing in this year’s ValleyStar Credit Union 300.
Richmond and Peters bonded over their love of racing when they met in middle school, and the pair ended up progressing through the ranks together. They went their separate ways shortly after joining Bobby Hamilton Racing in 2005, but Richmond later became Peters’ crew chief at Red Horse Racing, where they won three races together from 2014-15.
RACING REFERENCE: Crew chief stats for Marcus Richmond
Like Peters, Richmond has always possessed a strong passion for Late Model Stock racing , having served as Peters’ crew chief during his two ValleyStar Credit Union 300 wins in 2005 and 2017.
It simply made too much sense for Richmond to have his long-time friend join R&S Race Cars for Martinsville and provide feedback on his own program.
“Timothy is very professional and he does everything 100 percent right,” Richmond said. “He knows everything about racing, and it was a breath of fresh air having to have him work with us and give input on our cars. He was very pleased with the performance of our car, and he told me that was the most fun he had in a long time.”
Richmond added that Peters’ presence with R&S Race Cars at Martinsville not only benefitted the program, but also his two young drivers in Conner Jones and Jonathan Shafer.
Peters worked closely with Jones and Shafer during the weekend to provide knowledge on maintaining track position and being patient around the half-mile facility, especially when it came to racing others in their respective heat races.
Although Jones ended up missing the 200-lap feature, Shafer successfully overcame a disallowed time trial and engine issues in his heat to earn the final starting position on the 40-car field, where he ended finishing two spots behind Peters in 10th.
For Richmond, the consistency R&S showed at Martinsville highlighted the value of having Peters’ expertise inside the Late Model Stock garage area. Richmond admitted Peters’ presence will be missed if the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 was indeed his final race.
While Richmond respects Peters’ desire to spend more time with his family, he plans to keep a seat open for Peters should he ever want to climb back into a car.
“I’d love to see [Timothy] keep racing, but it all comes down to funding,” Richmond said. “If he can get the funding to run two or three races a year, that would be great. Timothy still does such a great job, and it’s so nice to always work with him. My goal is to find Timothy the funding to run the [Virginia] Triple Crown and a few other races.”
Peters expressed his gratitude toward Richmond and everyone else who came together to support him for the ValleyStar Credit Union 300 and give him a proper sendoff on his successful racing career.
As Peters climbed out of his No. 11 Solid Rock Carriers/PepperJack Kennels Toyota in the same fire suit he wore while driving for Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program back in 2006, he was overcome by a sense of peace.
Leaving auto racing was never going to be an easy transition for Peters, but he departed Martinsville confident he had properly closed one chapter of his life and was prepared to start the next one as a different kind of driver.
“I can still do it,” Peters said. “[Saturday] rekindled that fire, but at the end of the day, I know what the right decision is. This is the only family I’ve got, and I want to keep them.”