Class of 2013
It was on his family’s tobacco farm in southern Virginia where his father, “Papa Joe” taught Rick Hendrick about the value of hard work and gave him a passion for cars. But who could’ve known that passion and hard work would lead Hendrick to becoming a 15-time champion team owner in NASCAR’S top divisions as the leader of Hendrick Motorsports.
At 14, he acted on that passion and began setting speed records at the local drag strip with a 1931 Chevrolet he personally built. Two years later, he won the Virginia Division of an engine building contest sponsored by Chrysler-Plymouth.
While pursuing a co-op while attending North Carolina State University, Hendrick’s true passion led him to open his first used car lot. Within three years, Hendrick became the youngest Chevrolet dealer in the United States and that momentum carried him to found Hendrick Automotive Group which now has over 100 locations in the United Sates.
In the late 1970s, Hendrick started a drag-boat racing team that won three straight national championships and set a world record of 222.2 mph with his boat, “Nitro Fever.”
Hendrick soon transitioned to NASCAR. Starting in the Late Model Sportsman Series, he found success – Including a 1983 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Dale Earnhardt Sr. behind the wheel.
But it was a partnership with legendary crew chief Harry Hyde that marked a turning point and a step-up to NASCAR’s top series. Hendrick founded All-Star Racing (Now Hendrick Motorsports) in 1984 with Geoff Bodine driving the No. 5 Chevy. NASCAR hasn’t been the same since.
Entering 2015, Hendrick Motorsports has won a record 15 overall championships: 11 in the Sprint Cup Series, three in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the XFINITY Series. The Cup titles are held by Jimmie Johnson (6), Jeff Gordon (4) and Terry Labonte (1).
In May 2012, Hendrick became just the second owner to reach 200 wins in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He is second only to Petty Enterprises on NASCAR’S all-time Cup victories list and leads all owners in modern-era wins. Hendrick Motorsports has a total of eight Daytona 500 victories with five different drivers.