For NC Contractors, Victory Junction was Labor of Love

Tue September 14, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Vikki Broughton Hodges

RANDLEMAN, NC (AP) Lexington subcontractors who worked on the Victory Junction Gang Camp project here say it was not only a major project for their companies, but also a labor of love.

E.E. Wilson Floor Covering, Newsome Grading and Saintsing Irrigation & Landscaping –– all family-owned businesses based in Lexington –– helped build the new camp for chronically ill children ages 7 to 15 from Virginia and North and South Carolina.

They are among about 125 different companies that worked under general contractor Shelco Construction on the $25 million NASCAR-themed camp, which Kyle and Pattie Petty founded. They did so in memory of their son, Adam, who was killed in a speedway accident four years ago at the age of 19. Adam’s grandfather, racing legend Richard Petty, and his wife, Lynda, donated the 75-acre tract of land for the camp just outside Randleman.

In addition to the Petty family, the camp, which opened in June, is funded primarily by NASCAR drivers and corporate sponsors, as well as fans, and is largely staffed with volunteers.

Heather Collier, the camp’s director of communications, said the first summer session ended recently, with children attending the free camp for five-day stays over an eight-week period. The children are grouped together for their stays by illness, whether it’s cancer, epilepsy or spina bifida. The rest of the year, the camp addresses the needs of the whole family by providing family and sibling retreats as well as special camper reunion events.

The camp, which is designed in a NASCAR theme, has some elements of a traditional summer camp, with cabins, a dining hall called the Fuel Stop, a swimming pool, an arts and crafts center, a theater with marquee lights made from spark plugs, a gym, a horse barn called the Horsepower Garage and a ropes course. Adam’s Race Shop, which is shaped like a race car, has simulators where campers can do practice runs from the safety of a car seat.

But there’s also a fully staffed medical center called The Body Shop where campers can get their treatments, such as chemotherapy or kidney dialysis, and medicine. The shallow pool is graduated so some campers can wade in or be wheeled in to splash their new friends. The paddle boats on the 7-acre lake cannot only be powered by feet pushing pedals but some of them are equipped to be powered by arms for those paralyzed below the waist. And all buildings and areas are handicapped accessible.

Gordon Saintsing and his son, John, of Saintsing Irrigation & Landscaping created the 7-acre lake at the camp as well as the four fountains in it. They have put in three miles of mainline pipe at the site for the irrigation system, which feeds off the lake and is still being installed in sections around the camp.

“It’s among some of our largest projects,” said Gordon Saintsing, who founded his business 25 years ago. Other recent major projects include The Point, a residential community in Mooresville, and five athletic fields at Elon University. Local projects of note include The Bob Timberlake Gallery, RCR Enterprises headquarters in Welcome and the new BB&T headquarters in uptown Lexington.

“It’s a fun place to work,” said John Saintsing, noting that in addition to the lake and irrigation work, the company also did some landscaping work, especially as everyone worked overtime to get the camp ready for its mid-June grand opening.

Like the Saintsings and Newsome Grading, Efird Wilson, president of E.E. Wilson Floor Covering, said his company found out about the camp project from Shelco Construction, one of the state’s largest general contractors.

“It’s been one of the most unique and creative projects we’ve been involved with,” Wilson said of his company, which was founded by his late father and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

He said installing sheet vinyl in geometric patterns in the arts and crafts building was a challenge but an effort that turned out well.

“There was nothing typical about it,” Wilson added, noting that his crews, led by project manager John Young, installed more than 100,000 square feet of flooring in all of the camp buildings, except for the gym. They installed wood flooring, sheet vinyl, carpet, ceramic tile and glass tile in the various buildings at the camp. They also installed the granite pavers in front of Adam’s Race Shop that name the numerous sponsors of the camp.

He said the unique nature of the camp for ill children made everyone involved take a little more pride in their work.

“Everyone working on it, down to the guys in the field, took a lot of pride in it,” Wilson said.

Benny Newsome of Newsome Grading in Lexington, which also includes Bill Newsome, his father who founded the business, and his brother, Kenny Newsome, also said the project was unique for their company –– for the scope of the work but also the spirit of the crews working on the camp.

The crew from Newsome Grading worked from April 2003 to June of this year doing fine grading, preparing building pads and working on storm drains. In the past few weeks they have cleared some more pathways between buildings.

“I’ve been on some large projects, but this is the most unusual one I’ve been on,” Benny Newsome said. “The camp itself is unusual –– it’s amazing what they’ve built for the kids. But I’ve never been involved in such a joint effort of so many people, including a lot of volunteers.”

Newsome said the last few weeks before the grand opening were hectic, with everyone working into the evenings and on weekends to get the last-minute landscaping done for opening day.

“We don’t usually do landscaping, but we were planting bushes and sod,” he said, adding that the whole Petty family was pitching in along with other volunteers. “Kyle was out there one night sweeping out the barn, and Pattie was watering the flowers. Richard was out there all the time on a four-wheeler, checking on things. Lynda was out there, too.

“That’s what made it so meaningful –– everybody out there was trying to help each other out. It was amazing how everyone pitched in. I’m glad to say we were a part of it.”

AP Photo: People tour part of the Victory Junction Gang Camp in Randleman, NC. Celebrating the memory of Adam Petty, who died on the track four years ago, the Petty family opened a summer camp for sick children in June.