Hendrick Motorsports

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#Hendrick30th spotlight: Machinist Ron Bates shares his story

In celebration of Hendrick Motorsports’ 30th anniversary, HendrickMotorsports.com is taking a look at some of the folks who work diligently behind the scenes for the 11-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champions. Today’s blog is by Ron Bates, machinist in the Nos. 48/88 shop:

Most people see the Hendrick Motorsports Victory Bell as a way to commemorate the win. They think of it as a way to celebrate a victory, and it is. It’s a great opportunity for us as a company to pause and enjoy the win together. We just did that last week with Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. in honor of his Daytona 500 win. He rang that bell through every building on the complex and shook the hands of each individual. 

What the majority of people don’t know about that bell is that I’ve spent numerous hours working on it. Things break down on occasion and as the machinist, it becomes my job to fix it – but I don’t mind it one bit because it’s what I love to do. 

I’ve always loved racing. I grew up in Montreal and used to watch the live Formula One races on television. But I really get my passion for racing and working with my hands from my Grandpa Charlie. He used to race motorcycles in the circuses after World War I. There were these high bank wooden tracks that curved up so high that they became vertical. And Grandpa Charlie used to race on those – what a daredevil he was!

It’s my love for the sport that brought me to Hendrick Motorsports back in 1996.  I started out as a mechanic on the No. 25 car, but I currently work as a machinist in the Nos. 48/88 shop. What do I do? I make parts for race cars – I make whatever the crew chiefs or the engineers want. Sometimes they’ll come in with a blueprint of what they want and sometimes they come in with just an idea. 

Whenever they come to see me, I ask three questions: “What do you want? How many do you want? When do you want them by?” If they can supply me with answers to all three of those questions, I’ll do my best to satisfy their needs. And I make each part individually by hand, which I absolutely love. There’s a lot of time and effort that goes into everything I make. One important piece that I’ve made is the brake master cylinder mounting bracket. In simpler terms, this little piece stops the car from hitting the darn wall! 

This week at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, our goal is simply victory. I want Hendrick Motorsports to finish first, second, third and fourth. That’s a want, a wish and a desire – but it’s possible. Each Hendrick Motorsports driver runs good at Martinsville. Now, I love Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway more than any other track, but I consider Martinsville to be the race we need to win every year. We’ve been too strong there in the past not to emerge victorious.

 But no matter which driver wins a race for Hendrick Motorsports, we all ring this bell. After all, a victory is not just his victory. And it’s not just our victory in the shop. It’s a Hendrick Motorsports victory. So I hope I get to hear that Victory Bell ringing in the shop after Martinsville this weekend. Because that means our wonderful Hendrick Motorsports family will have won again.