CONCORD, N.C. – It’s Hall of Fame week for Rick Hendrick.
On Friday, the Hendrick Motorsports owner will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame – a fact he said is still a bit surreal.
But if there’s one thing Hendrick knows for certain, it’s that when he takes the stage, there will be plenty of nerves.
“I’m always nervous,” he laughed. “I’m not going to use a teleprompter -- I’m going to just speak from the heart. It’s going to be a very emotional time for me.”
The nerves and emotion, he explained, come from the vast array of individuals that have supported him throughout his journey in the sport. “The people that helped build” Hendrick Motorsports into what it is today.
“If there’s a problem I have it’s going to be so many people have contributed to this thing, so many drivers, so many crew chiefs, so many folks at Motorsports, I won’t be able to mention everybody,” he said. “I could stand up there and take a day-and-a-half to talk. I know I’ve got about six minutes, so I’m going to be nervous.”
For Hendrick, the situation takes him back to 1995 and what was running through his mind when Jeff Gordon and the No. 24 team earned the owner his very first NASCAR Cup Series championship.
“You just reflect back to everything that’s ever happened in your life in racing,” he said. “When I start thinking about it, it reminds me again of the first night when I was in the hotel room in New York after the first championship and I wanted to call everybody I knew and say, ‘Man, thank you for helping me here,’ or, ‘Thank you for the drag race there.’”
Hendrick acknowledged that Friday’s speech will be “the toughest one I’ve probably ever done,” simply because of what it signifies.
The record 12-time NASCAR Cup Series champion car owner will have reached pinnacle of the sport, recognized as a Hall of Famer.
“Just so many different emotions run through you when you think about what you’re really going into, something as special as the NASCAR Hall of Fame and who’s in that today and what it really means,” Hendrick said. “I will definitely be nervous.”