Team Owner - Rick Hendrick
- Feb 06, 2004
- 5 Team
Born July 12, 1949 in Warrenton, N.C., Rick Hendrick was raised on his family’s farm near the small Virginia community of Palmer Springs. It was there, south of Richmond and just north of the North Carolina border, that his father, “Papa Joe,” instilled in his children the value of a hard day’s work and a passion for the automobile.
Under Papa Joe’s watchful eye, that love of cars led Hendrick into the world of auto racing, where at 14 he quickly made a name for himself by setting speed records at a local drag strip with a self-built 1931 Chevrolet. The following year, at age 15, he won the Virginia division of the Chrysler-Plymouth Troubleshooting Engine Building Contest.
Hendrick also was a standout high-school athlete who briefly flirted with professional baseball before moving to Raleigh, N.C., to pursue a co-op work-study program with North Carolina State University and Westinghouse Electric Company.
While in Raleigh, Hendrick’s automotive passion led him to open a small used-car lot with a new-car dealer. This proved to be a successful business venture, as Hendrick’s efforts soon led the dealer to name him general sales manager of his new-car import operation at the age of 23.
In 1976, the 25-year-old Hendrick took a chance by selling off the vast majority of his assets to purchase a struggling Chevrolet dealership in Bennettsville, S.C. His influence led to a dramatic increase in sales as the franchise soon became the most profitable in the area.
Bennettsville’s success was a precursor to the Hendrick Automotive Group, currently consisting of more than 60 dealerships and 5,000 employees from the Carolinas to California. Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., the company now generates more than $4 billion in revenue annually.
As his automotive business prospered, Hendrick was enjoying an equal amount of success in the realm of motor sports. In the late 1970s, he founded a drag-boat racing team that won three consecutive national championships and set a world record – at an amazing 222.2 mph – with the boat “Nitro Fever.”
But Hendrick soon transitioned back into car racing, sponsoring and co-owning a limited number of NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Series (now NASCAR Busch Series) entries, which included victories in 1983 with the late Dale Earnhardt as driver.
In 1984, Hendrick founded All-Star Racing. That year, the fledgling outfit fielded a single NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now NEXTEL Cup) team with five employees and 5,000 square feet of workspace. With Geoff Bodine driving a full 30-race season in the No. 5 Chevrolets, the group earned three victories, three pole positions and finished ninth in the championship standings, one spot above the legendary Richard Petty.
Rechristened Hendrick Motorsports in 1985, the organization today is headquartered on more than 100 acres of North Carolina property straddling Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties. The 600,000-square-foot facility houses complete engine- and chassis-building areas to support five full-time teams in NASCAR’s top two divisions – the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series.
In all, Hendrick Motorsports has garnered nine NASCAR championships – five in the NEXTEL Cup Series, three in the Craftsman Truck Series and one in the Busch Series – making it one of the sport’s premier operations. Its roster of stock-car drivers includes Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Terry Labonte and Jimmie Johnson.
Rick Hendrick is quickly approaching 200 combined victories in NASCAR’s top three divisions. He is now second on NASCAR’s all-time Cup win list (1949-present) and leads all owners in modern-era victories (1972-present). His Cup teams have won at least one race each year since 1986, the longest active streak, and have averaged nearly 10 wins annually for more than a decade (1994-2005).
Success on and off the race track has given Hendrick the opportunity to come to the aid of those in need by supporting and founding charitable endeavors, like the Hendrick Marrow Program and the Hendrick Foundation for Children.
In 1997, Hendrick chartered the Hendrick Marrow Program, an initiative to raise funds for tissue typing and to support those suffering from leukemia and other blood-related diseases. A member of The Marrow Foundation’s board of directors, Hendrick takes a very personal approach to the cause after being diagnosed in 1996 with a rare form of leukemia (in remission since 1999).
Along with his wife, Linda, Hendrick in 1999 was presented with The Marrow Foundation’s E. Donnall and Dorothy E. Thomas Leadership for Life Award, which recognizes individuals who have made an extraordinary commitment to the National Marrow Donor Program and The Marrow Foundation. Other recipients include Congressman C.W. Bill Young, baseball great Rod Carew and former postmaster general William J. Henderson.
Established by the Hendrick family in 2004, the Hendrick Foundation for Children provides programs and services to benefit youngsters with illness, injury, disability or other hindrance. The non-profit organization has so far raised more than $1 million toward community-oriented initiatives that improve the quality of children’s lives.
Hendrick also offers his time to multiple boards and other business-related ventures. One of five dealers to be selected for the national planning committee for General Motors’ Saturn Division, he also served on the GM President’s Dealer Advisory Council and has taken on other various roles with automobile manufacturers.
A resident of Charlotte, Hendrick is also vice chairman of the North Carolina Motorsports Association, a nonprofit group that acts as a proponent of the motor sports industry throughout the state, and is currently helping to lead the region’s bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
In 1996, Gov. Jim Hunt honored Hendrick with The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is given to outstanding North Carolinians who have a proven record of service to the state. Eight years later, the same presentation was made to Hendrick’s father, Papa Joe Hendrick, by Gov. Mike Easley.
Hendrick even has a film credit on his résumé after helping NASCAR “Go Hollywood” as a technical advisor on the 1990 motion picture “Days of Thunder.” The film, which starred Tom Cruise, netted more than $80 million at the box office.
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- Jan 19, 2005