- Rick Hendrick
- Birth Date
- July 12, 1949
- Palmer Springs, Va.
Born July 12, 1949, in Warrenton, N.C., Joseph Riddick "Rick" Hendrick III was raised on his family's farm, a stone's throw from the small Virginia community of Palmer Springs. It was there, south of Richmond near the North Carolina border, where his father instilled the value of a hard day's work and a pure passion for the automobile.
Under the watchful eye of "Papa Joe," that love of cars led Hendrick into the world of auto racing. At age 14, he quickly made a name for himself by setting speed records at a local drag strip with a self-built 1931 Chevrolet. Two years later, the self-described "gearhead" won the Virginia division of the Chrysler-Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest, a competition for engine builders. He was just 16.
A standout athlete at Park View High School in South Hill, Va., Hendrick considered an opportunity to play professional baseball before pursuing a co-op work-study program with North Carolina State University and Westinghouse Electric Company in Raleigh, N.C.
As his automotive business prospered, Hendrick was enjoying an equal amount of success in the realm of motor sports. In the late 1970s, he founded a drag-boat racing team that won three consecutive national championships and set a world record of 222.2 mph with the boat "Nitro Fever."
But Hendrick soon transitioned back into car racing, sponsoring and co-owning a limited number of NASCAR Late Model Sportsman Series (now NASCAR Nationwide Series) entries, which included a 1983 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. as driver.
In 1984, Hendrick founded All-Star Racing. That year, the fledgling outfit fielded a single NASCAR Winston Cup Series (now Sprint Cup) team with five full-time employees and 5,000 square feet of leased workspace. With Geoff Bodine driving an entire 30-race campaign in the No. 5 Chevrolets, All-Star Racing finished ninth in championship points after earning three victories and three pole positions in its first season.
Rechristened Hendrick Motorsports in 1985, the organization today is headquartered on 140 acres of North Carolina property straddling Cabarrus and Mecklenburg counties. The 430,000-square-foot facility houses complete engine- and chassis-building areas to support four full-time teams in NASCAR's top division–the Sprint Cup Series.
Now one of the sport's premier operations, Hendrick Motorsports has garnered a NASCAR record 13 owner's championships and 14 overall: 10 in the Sprint Cup Series, three in the Camping World Truck Series and one in the Nationwide Series (driver's title only). Its roster of stock-car drivers includes Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Hendrick currently is second on NASCAR's all-time Cup wins list (1949 – present) and leads all owners in modern-era victories (1972 – present). His Cup-level teams have won at least one race each year since 1986–the longest active streak–and averaged nearly 10 wins annually during the last decade.
A resident of Charlotte, Hendrick is vice chairman of the North Carolina Motorsports Association, a nonprofit group that acts as a proponent of the motor sports industry throughout the state, and recently helped lead the region's successful bid for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Hendrick even has a film credit to his name after serving as a technical advisor on the 1990 motion picture "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise. Inspired in part by the real-life relationship between crew chief Harry Hyde and driver Tim Richmond, the film netted more than $80 million at the box office. In 2009, Cruise narrated "TOGETHER: The Hendrick Motorsports Story," a documentary-style film chronicling Hendrick's first 25 years in NASCAR.