A president and a king: Celebrating 30th anniversary of 200th Petty win
The date was July 4, 1984 - the most patriotic of all United States holidays - and the event was the Firecracker 400, the former name of NASCAR's annual summer showdown at its most legendary track, Daytona International Speedway.
United States President Ronald Reagan was in the house as the first sitting U.S. president to ever attend a NASCAR race, while NASCAR's King - Richard Petty - was seeking his landmark 200th top series win at a place where he'd won nine times.
Petty, already the sport's all-time wins leader and at the time its only seven-time champion, arrived at the World Center of Racing seeking to further cement his place in NASCAR history by reaching the elusive 200 wins mark just five races after snaring Victory No. 199 in Dover, Del.
To no one's surprise, the final laps at Daytona turned into an epic duel between Petty and three-time series champion Cale Yarborough, who passed Petty down the backstretch on the final green-flag lap, only for Petty to slingshot back to Yarborough's inside coming out of Turn 4 and edge his familiar rival by a nose at the finish line.
The final two laps were run under caution, thanks to an accident in Turn 1 that made Petty and Yarborough both quickly realize their battle on Lap 158 of 160 would be for all the marbles.
"When Cale was following me on that last green-flag lap, I didn't have the foggiest idea what I was going to do," Petty said. "It was a circumstance where he would act and I'd react. We touched two or three times but not enough to upset either car."
After taking the checkered, Petty returned to the start/finish line, parked his famous No. 43 car and headed to a VIP booth to meet the president before celebrating his win in Victory Lane.
Pictures of Petty and Reagan together after the race were prominently displayed in newspapers around the country the following day. On this day, the 30th anniversary of Petty's 200th and final win, it still seems fitting that July 4, 1984, brought together a president and a king as no other Independence Day ever has or will.