CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rick Hendrick is a NASCAR Hall of Famer.
The owner of Hendrick Motorsports was named to the 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame class Wednesday evening, joined by Benny Parsons, Mark Martin, Raymond Parks and Richard Childress. Hendrick had been a nominee for induction since the inaugural class of 2010, and in the eighth annual class, it was his time.
The decision was made by a voting panel that includes representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, manufacturers, track owners, broadcasters, media members, former owners and drivers – and even one ballot from a nationwide fan vote.
The main criteria for induction are NASCAR accomplishments and contributions to the sport.
There’s no doubt Hendrick meets that standard.
Under his leadership, Hendrick Motorsports has grown from five employees in its inaugural 1984 season to more than 600 – and 242 Sprint Cup Series wins have followed.
Hendrick is currently second on NASCAR’s all-time Cup victories list (1949-present) and leads all owners in modern-era wins (1972-present). His teams have won at least one Cup-level race each season since 1986 – the longest active streak – and averaged 10 points-paying wins annually over the last decade (2006-15).
Hendrick pioneered the modern multi-car team model, and his organization has garnered a NASCAR-record 14 national series owner’s championships and 15 overall – a record 11 in the Sprint Cup Series, three in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the XFINITY Series (driver’s title only).
And those Cup championships came via three different drivers, making Hendrick the only owner to have that distinction.
Former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Steve Letarte, now an analyst for NBC Sports, once said there was a reason why he continued to work for the organization since he began in 1995 sweeping floors.
“People don’t work at Hendrick Motorsports because we win races,” he said. “People work at Hendrick Motorsports because they want to work for Rick Hendrick, and that’s a big difference.”
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, said it took no time at all when deciding to join the organization. He is now one of the 16 drivers to have visited Victory Lane for Hendrick Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series.
“Just to listen to stories and just think about how much history is involved in Hendrick Motorsports already and what Mr. Hendrick has done for racing and how much he’s been a part of racing definitely got me excited and kept me wanting it pretty bad,” Kahne said. “I wanted to be one of those drivers who would win a race for him.”
Hendrick’s sustained success and impact on the sport has earned him the most prestigious honor one can receive in NASCAR. He will officially be enshrined in the NASCAR Hall of Fame during the class of 2017’s induction ceremony in January.