Joseph Riddick Hendrick IIIBirthplace:
Warrenton, North CarolinaBirth date:
July 12, 1949Hometown:
Palmer Springs, Virginia
Rick Hendrick is a self-described "gearhead" who turned his passion for the automobile into successful business ventures in the retail automotive and professional auto racing industries.
Raised on a tobacco farm near the small community of Palmer Springs, Virginia, Hendrick worked on and raced cars as a young man. Alongside his father, "Papa Joe," he rebuilt his first car, a 1931 Chevrolet, at age 14 and regularly traveled to racetracks across the region, often volunteering as a crew member. After high school, he moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, to pursue a co-op program with North Carolina State University and Westinghouse Electric Corp.
Although he was studying to become a tool and die maker, Hendrick’s enthusiasm for cars led him down a different career path. In Raleigh, he connected with established dealer Mike Leith and opened a small used car lot. The venture’s success convinced Leith to name him general sales manager of his new car import operation at the age of 23. Hendrick fell in love with the business.
In 1976, after Hendrick caught the eye of General Motors executives, a risky opportunity presented itself: A chronically troubled Chevrolet store in Bennettsville, South Carolina, needed new leadership. It would make Hendrick the youngest Chevy dealer in the country, but the barriers to success were substantial in the tiny agricultural town. After considering the possibilities, he and wife Linda sold everything they owned, purchased the location and moved two hours south.
At just 26 years old, Hendrick’s people-first approach and natural talent for the car business turned the struggling Bennettsville dealership into the region’s most profitable. The transformation led to more opportunities and was the precursor to Hendrick Automotive Group, which today operates collision centers, accessories distributor installers and 131 retail franchises across 13 states.
Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and employing more than 10,000 people, Hendrick Automotive Group is now the largest privately held dealership group in the country. In 2022, it generated more than $12.2 billion in revenue after selling over 185,000 vehicles and servicing nearly 2.5 million cars and trucks. Hendrick, 73, leads the organization as its chairman and CEO.
While working to establish himself in the car business, Hendrick remained active in racing circles – setting world records in drag boats before returning to his roots in stock cars. In 1984, he founded NASCAR team Hendrick Motorsports, which has become the sport’s most successful operation. Today, the original race shop overlooks a state-of-the-art facility with 430,000 square feet of workspace on 140 acres in Concord, North Carolina. It is home to 600 employees who support four full-time Chevrolet stock-car teams with drivers Alex Bowman, William Byron, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson in the elite NASCAR Cup Series.
In May 2021, Hendrick Motorsports became the winningest team in Cup Series history after breaking the record held for more than 60 years by the legendary Petty Enterprises. At NASCAR’s top level, Hendrick Motorsports holds every major statistical record, including championships, points-paying victories, pole positions and laps led. It has won at least one race in a record 39 different seasons and maintains an active streak of 38 in a row (1986-2023).
Hendrick is also NASCAR’s all-time leader in national series championships with 18 overall. His teams have earned one in the Xfinity Series (driver’s title only), three in the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and a record 14 at the premier Cup level. Hendrick Motorsports’ Cup Series titles have come with a NASCAR record five different drivers: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (four), Terry Labonte (1996), Elliott (2020) and most recently Larson (2021). In 2024, the team will celebrate its 40th anniversary.
A leukemia survivor, Hendrick’s charitable efforts have generated tens of millions of dollars in support of countless causes. In May 2016, he and Linda introduced the not-for-profit Hendrick Family Foundation. It consolidated the philanthropic initiatives of the Hendrick organization and absorbed its predecessor, the Hendrick Marrow Program, which raised more than $15 million from 1997-2016. The foundation’s signature event is the annual Learn Live Hope charitable golf tournament, which in 2022 generated more than $1.3 million to benefit various organizations.
Hendrick was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017 and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2013. He is a recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, NASCAR’s Bill France Award of Excellence and The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is bestowed upon outstanding North Carolinians. In 2014, Hendrick was honored with the Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award for significant contributions to the auto industry.