MOORESVILLE, N.C. – While Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick might be best known for his success in NASCAR, stock cars aren’t the only form of racing where he has made an impact.
That’s why on Wednesday afternoon, Hendrick was honored by the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame with the Jeff Byrd Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the state’s rich drag racing history.
“Jeff Byrd was a great friend,” Hendrick said of the late Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Dragway president and general manager. “He did so much for our sport, both on the NASCAR side and on the drag racing side.”
Hendrick’s passion for drag racing started at the age of 14, driving a self-built 1931 Chevrolet – a car he still owns today – to victory at North Carolina’s Roxboro Dragway during a popular 1964 Easter weekend meet.
From 1984 to 1993, Hendrick sponsored David Reher and Buddy Morrison’s famous Reher-Morrison drag racing operation, which included Lee Shepherd’s IHRA and NHRA Pro Stock championships in 1984. Hendrick Motorsports engine builder Randy Dorton also worked closely with Reher-Morrison on engine development and technology, including innovations that were adapted for NASCAR competition.
“It’s just a great time to reflect and remember,” Hendrick said. “I still go out to the drag strip. Last week I was out with a Camaro and I go back next week. Every time I get an opportunity to do a hall pass I go try to break some parts.”
Today, Hendrick maintains his connection to drag racing through the preservation of historical cars. His collection includes two of the early 1970s “Snake and The Mongoose” match race Funny Cars of Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen; the IHRA and NHRA Pro Stock champion 1981 Reher-Morrison Chevrolet Camaro; Dave Strickler’s popular 1968 “Old Reliable” Chevrolet Camaro; Prudhomme’s 2009 Top Fuel dragster; Jerry Gwynn’s legendary fuel altered; and Darrell Gwynn’s early alcohol and Top Fuel dragsters that each won NHRA national events.
“I just want to thank everybody for remembering the great sport of drag racing and for acknowledging what the sport means to the state,” Hendrick said.