Richard Petty Appreciation Year, by the Randolph County (N.C.) board of commissioners. A longtime board member and lifelong resident of the county, Petty, 54, who has 200 Winston Cup victories in a 34-year career, plans to retire from racing at the end of the year. "I'm really touched," said a surprised Petty after the resolution was read at the board's first meeting of 1992. The county plans to erect signs on major roads to mark the distinction. In fact, one eight-mile stretch of U.S. 220 By-Pass recently was named the Richard Petty Freeway by the state Department of Transportation. The speed limit is 55 mph.
Into history as the best 2-year-old ever to race on European tracks, the precocious colt Arazi. Handicappers from five nations last week gave Arazi the highest rating of all time. "Arazi is the jewel in the crown in an era when superlatives have become debased," said Michael Byrne, chairman of the International Classification Committee. Arazi won five straight starts in Europe before he won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November. He's far and away the favorite for this year's Kentucky Derby.
By Argentine national hero cum suspected cokehead Diego Maradona, a house in an undisclosed Florida coastal city. The former soccer star told a Buenos Aires newspaper that he plans to move to the U.S. in the near future. Not so fast, said a spokesman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service. "You can't just take up residence in the United States," said the spokesman. "You have to qualify." Let's see: Last year Maradona was suspended from international soccer after testing positive for cocaine use, and he still faces drug-possession charges in Argentina. Nice qualifications.
As trainer for heavyweight pretender Razor Ruddock, former champion Floyd Patterson. "There's a lot I can teach him," said Patterson, 55. That's for sure. Patterson will start by showing Ruddock how to punch, which the Razor failed to do effectively in two losses to Mike Tyson last year. Patterson will be in Ruddock's corner for his Feb. 15 fight against Greg Page.
By Indiana Governor Evan Bayh, his State of the State address, to avoid any conflict with a televised game between Indiana and Minnesota. Bayh, an Indiana grad, began the speech at 7:30 p.m. and ended promptly at 8 p.m., when the game went on the air. "We don't want to go head-to-head with the General," said a Bayh flack, referring to Hoosier coach Bob Knight.
By President Bush and his doubles partner, U.S. Ambassador to Japan Michael Armacost, a tennis match to Japanese Emperor Akihito and Crown Prince Naruhito. The stomach-wrenching, deuce-filled battle took place a few hours before the infamous state dinner in Tokyo at which Bush was overcome by nausea. Unflappable first lady Barbara Bush jokingly blamed Bush's illness, later attributed to the flu, on his embarrassment at the 6-3, 6-3 defeat. Memo to Bush aides: If the President says "Read my lips" after a bad day on the court, don't stand too close. Wouldn't be prudent.