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 farm near the small community of Palmer Springs, Va., Hendrick worked on and raced cars under the watchful eye of his father, “Papa Joe.” After high school, he pursued a co-op work-study program in Raleigh with N.C. State University and Westinghouse Electric Company.
While in Raleigh, Hendrick opened a small used-car lot with established dealer Mike Leith. Its success convinced Leith to name Hendrick, at 23, the general sales manager of his new-car import operation.
In 1976, Hendrick sold off his assets to purchase a struggling franchise in Bennettsville, S.C., thus becoming, at 26, the youngest Chevrolet dealer in the United States. His influence sparked a dramatic sales increase, as the once troubled location soon became the region’s most profitable.
That success was a precursor to Hendrick Automotive Group, which today operates collision centers, accessories distributor installers and more than 120 retail franchises across 13 states. It is the largest privately held dealership group in the country. Headquartered in Charlotte, it generated a company record $7.55 billion in revenue in 2014. Hendrick chairs the company, which employs more than 10,000.
In 1984, Hendrick founded Hendrick Motorsports. Today, the original race shop overlooks a state-of-the-art facility with 430,000 square feet of workspace on 140 acres in Concord. It houses more than 600 employees to support four full-time Chevrolet teams in the elite NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
Now one of the sport’s premier operations, Hendrick Motorsports has garnered a NASCAR record 14 national series owner’s championships and 15 overall. Its roster of stock-car drivers includes Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.
Hendrick is second on NASCAR’s all-time Sprint Cup victories list (1949-present) and leads all owners in modern-era wins (1972-present). His teams have won at least one Cup-level race each season since 1986 – the longest active streak in the sport. He is NASCAR’s all-time leader in Sprint Cup owner’s championships with 11.
“Rick’s desire and passion have kept him around the sport for a long time, and his ability to build leadership and put the right people in the right places has led to that experience being entirely successful,” said Earnhardt Jr.
A leukemia survivor, Hendrick in 1997 chartered the Hendrick Marrow Program, a nonprofit group that works in partnership with the Be The Match Foundation. He also is involved with the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte and various other charitable endeavors.
Hendrick is a recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger Award, NASCAR’s Bill France Award of Excellence and, in 1996, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, which is bestowed upon outstanding North Carolinians. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2013.
The Newton-Conover, N.C., native earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in August 1991 at Michigan International Speedway in a car owned by the famed Wood Brothers. Jarrett captured 3 Daytona 500 victories in his career. In his career Jarrett won a total of 32 Cup races. Dale Jarrett won the NASCAR Cup Championship in 1999.
Born the son of NASCAR legend, Ned Jarrett, Dale’s path to NASCAR stardom appeared inevitable, as a passion for racing fueled Jarrett’s ambition early in his career. If not for his desire to race cars, Jarrett’s career easily could have detoured down the path of another sport. Jarrett was star athlete at Newton-Conover High School, excelling in football, basketball, baseball and golf. [more…]
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