CONCORD, N.C. -- Like the majority of people who work in an office, Chad Knaus has made his personal space his own. Hendrick Motorsports’ vice president of competition has been with the racing organization for over 25 years which has allowed him to create his own sense of home at Hendrick Motorsports.
Check out some of the fun and fascinating things Knaus has on display in his office.
1. The Bonsai tree
Knaus revealed that the Bonsai he has in his office is more than 15 years old. Even while he was on the road with Jimmie Johnson as his crew chief, he took the time to take care of the small Japanese foliage that now is front and center on a table in his office.
“I had one prior to this and, unfortunately, lost it,” Knaus said. “This one has been replanted twice by me and I water it every week. I prune it, I water it and I’m trying to get it to grow a little more dense right now. It’s been to the doctor a time or two, but it’s fine now.”
2. The first trophy
Knaus’ first win as a crew chief was with Jimmie Johnson on April 28, 2002. It was the first of 81 wins for the duo and the beginning of the legacy the pair would imprint on NASCAR. Johnson famously said that win was how he knew he would have a job in the Cup Series, and it reminds Knaus of his beginnings atop the pit box.
“It’s the only trophy I keep in my office. Just to remember the very first one,” he said.
3. The rings
Knaus keeps a box of some of his championship team rings that dates to when he started on the No. 24 team as a tire changer for NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Aside from championship rings from Gordon’s dominance in the 1990s and 2000s, Knaus also had a few of his rings from his seven championships with Jimmie Johnson. In fact, Johnson’s last championship ring specifically commemorated his elite status as a seven-time Cup title holder. Only Dale Earnhardt and Richard Petty have as many championships.
4. And bling
Along with the rings are dozens of commemorative coins related to NASCAR. From a coin depictive Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th win to hardware celebrating racetrack moments and services of the United States military, the coins represent the evolution of NASCAR’s presence over the years.
5. A corner of nostalgia
In a shelf above Knaus’ desk is a brick from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a mug depicting the skyline of Chicago and a piece of coral. The brick is from one of Johnson’s wins at the legendary track where winners kiss the bricks as a sign of celebration. Johnson won four times at Indianapolis while Knaus was his crew chief.
The mug was a gift from a teammate who knew Knaus grew up close to Chicago, while the piece of coral is from the beaches at Wilmington, North Carolina, where Knaus loves to spend quality time with his family.