Iconic Petty Garage installs 90-CRI LED lighting (MAGAZINE)

April 16, 2013
Efficient LED-based lighting highlights color and detail of high-end hot rods in Richard Petty’s North Carolina garage.

This article was published in the Winter 2013 issue of IIF Magazine.

View the Table of Contents and download the PDF file of the complete Winter 2013 issue, or view the E-zine version in your browser.


Greenleaf Energy Solutions faced the challenge of pleasing "The King," NASCAR legend Richard Petty, in a relight project at the Petty Garage in Randleman, NC. The task at hand was finding new lighting that would make the car colors in the garage pop, eliminate shadows and glare, and minimize maintenance. Ultimately Greenleaf installed LED-based linear fixtures from Cree that met the aforementioned criteria plus gave a CRI of 90, delivered energy savings, and received an endorsement from Petty himself.

Petty Garage While Richard Petty is still involved in racing, the Petty Garage is focused on high-end restorations of older vehicles and major enhancements of late-model vehicles, including upgrades of engine output to 600 or 800 horsepower. The main garage serves both as a showroom and customer-delivery area where Petty personally presents vehicles to new owners and as the work area where precision interior, engine, and exterior work takes place.

Kevin Siebrecht, president of Greenleaf, admitted some anxiety at the onset of the project, saying, "This is the Petty Garage." Even small shadows can be a problem for mechanics working on precision engine parts or detailing a finish. Ultimately, Greenleaf installed more than 700 Cree fixtures in place of older fluorescent lighting, including CR24 recessed troffers in the main garage, suspended CS18 linear fixtures in areas such as a stock room, and LR24 recessed fixtures in office areas. All use Cree TrueWhite technology that among other things guarantees the 90 CRI.

It’s the CR24 fixtures that face the toughest challenge. Siebrecht said the lights perform like indirect/direct fixtures despite the fact that they are recessed. The LEDs shine up into the fixture from a mounting spot along the linear centerline, and radiate in a uniform pattern that eliminates shadowing at car level.

Petty was surprised at the results even as the project was partially complete saying, "Once we put half the building with these lights and half the building with the old lights, everything was cut and dry." Petty said the new lights were far brighter and added, "Once you get through with a car it’s like a brand new shiny penny."

Maintenance and warranty issues were also a major consideration for Petty. The older fluorescent lamps were both inferior in light quality and also required regular relamping—requiring workers to move cars and bring in a lift for maintenance.
High-CRI LED lights

Siebrecht said that Cree’s 10-yr warranty, and the fact that the products were assembled in the US made the Petty organization comfortable with the lighting that was ultimately installed. And Petty doesn’t expect to perform any maintenance on the lighting for a very long time.

Siebrecht called the finished project "a museum-quality lighting solution" and indeed there is talk of using some of the space as a museum. Siebrecht added, "Our typical retrofit until the last 12 months has been fluorescent or metal halide." The company is now finding that LED-based solid-state lighting can match or exceed other sources in light quality and provide energy savings.

For Petty, Siebrecht said that a reduction in energy cost was a good side benefit but not the primary goal. He added, "The reduction in environmental impact was more important to Petty than the dollars." Still the savings are substantial.

Greenleaf was able to reduce the number of fixtures in the 100-ft2 facility by 10% due to brighter LED sources. Combined, the fewer fixtures installed and more-efficient sources have reduced energy usage by more than 50%. Now Greenleaf is talking with Petty about installing Cree Edge and LEDway LED lighting on the exterior of the facility and in parking areas.