Rick Hendrick is one of the most successful team owners in NASCAR history, garnering nine
The Quick Bio
Born: July 12, 1949
Hometown: Warrenton, NC
Wife: Linda Hendrick
Children: Ricky (deceased), Lynn
When Rick Hendrick hired Jeff Gordon, Jeff really wanted me to come along and serve as his crew chief. And I'm glad that Hendrick had enough faith in our ability to work together that he brought me along too.
When I went there I quickly found out that Hendrick is a great manager. He gave us a budget and goals and a time frame that he wanted those goals achieved within. So he gave us realistic boundaries and then he left us alone to get to work.
I remember it was intimidating going to work for him that first day. He was such a huge personality in the sport back then, and he's even bigger now. But he's got the ability to make you feel comfortable one-on-one. And from the first day that we went there, we just knew that was the best place for us.
Hendrick walks through the garage area at Riverside in 1986 with Tim Richmond. Richmond wo
That first day in the shop he gave us the tour and he introduced us to Randy Dorton and said, "This is the man that's going to build your engines." And he had us meet Jimmy Johnson, the general manager of Hendrick Motorsports and said, "This is the man that's going to take care of all your needs." And then he said, "This is where I'm going to build all of your cars," and then he said, "Over here is your shop."
And after he left, Gordon and I were just high-fiving each other. It was like the genie had been let out of the bottle and given us everything we wanted. It was hard to believe the level of organization he had put together all the way back then. There were just so many resources there, we realized that if we couldn't win races at Hendrick Motorsports, then we couldn't win races anywhere.
Hendrick is also the kind of guy who the day you're expecting to get yelled at because you've screwed up-and you deserve to get yelled at-he just comes along and puts his arm around your shoulders. He recognizes when his people feel bad because they screwed something up, and he doesn't come in and remind them just to make them feel worse. Instead, he comes in and helps you try to fix the problem. And that's the kind of guy you want to work hard for.
After just two years of competition, in 1986 Hendrick Motorsports won the sports biggest p
Hendrick is also a visionary in this industry. He always had a vision about multiple cars and about how to spread cost and the benefit of getting people to work together. And I think before Gordon and I got there, people may have been a bit resistant to that vision because it was so different from the way things had always been done in racing. We bought into that vision and we started doing things different in racing, like with the pit crews and organizing the 24 team like a professional sports team.
So, Gordon and I may get a lot of credit for that because we had a lot of success and won a lot of races, but those were things that Hendrick already knew but he couldn't get the rest of the people there to believe in. And when we bought into it and it worked for us and resulted in championships, he was able to use us as an example and our practices migrated throughout the rest of the company. Because Gordon and I didn't have a lot of experience when we got there, I guess we were more willing to listen to people like Hendrick.
I'll always be grateful that I was able to get my NASCAR Winston Cup start at Hendrick Motorsports because I really got an education there. And it was fun to be part of a team that changed the way a lot of teams approach professional racing today. A lot of that goes right back to Rick Hendrick's vision.
Hendrick always was a hands on owner, never far from the pits. Here, during the 1990 Bud 5
Did You Know?
• Started as All Star Racing in 1984 Before Changing Team Name to Hendrick Motorsports in 1985
• Drove in Cup Races at Riverside (Calif.) in 1987 and 1988, Finishing 33rd and 15th, Respectively
• Won Nine Cup Series Championships with Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 1998, 2001), Terry Labonte (1996), and Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009)
• Presented in 1996 with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the State of North Carolina's Highest Honor, by Then-Governor Jim Hunt
• As a Car Owner, has Competed in 2,720 NASCAR Cup Events Through the End of the 2009 Season with 191 Wins, 748 Top 5 Finishes, and 171 Pole Positions
• His $334,759,939 in Total Winnings (Through 2009) is Currently the Highest Cumulative Total in NASCAR History
• 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, NC
• In 1976, Purchased a Struggling Franchise in Bennettsville, SC, Becoming the Youngest Chevrolet Dealer in the United States
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