Ray Price lived 78 years with the throttle wide open, earning worldwide fame as a motorcycle drag racer and “The Father of the Funnybike.” With a career spanning five decades, Price blistered the drag racing asphalt on the fastest naturally aspirated motorcycle on the planet. His need for speed was balanced by a kind spirit as a man also known for his generosity and active involvement in the community.
For more than 30 years, the Harley-Davidson and Triumph dealerships in his name have made Raleigh a center for motorcycle culture. Thousands of area bikers participate in charity rides originating from the dealership. For the past 11 years, the annual Ray Price Capital City Bikefest has attracted 100,000 visitors into downtown to become among the nation’s largest, family-friendly motorcycle festivals.
Price grew up on a Johnston County tobacco farm and bought his first motorcycle in 1963. After college, he enlisted in the Air Force and spent four years as a radar specialist. Soon after, he met his beloved wife, Jean. His motorcycle drag racing career began in 1967 at the age of 30.
It all started with a Harley-Davidson Sportster that Price tinkered with in his basement. He turned heads by dusting the competition at his first professional race in Atco, N.J., where Ray’s high-performance Harley drew criticism from his challengers. They balked in disbelief that it had less cubic inches but more power-per-cubic inch. Race officials tore down his engine and checked it three times but found nothing to disqualify him. His victory earned Price the respect of his peers and a racing legend was born.
Over Price’s lifetime, his innovations included designing the first wheelie bar for motorcycles, which enabled more power to the rear wheel while preventing flipping. He also was instrumental in creating the current style of two-speed racing transmission. Amazingly enough, Price began his career riding 70-horsepower bikes in the 1960s and became an industry guru who helped develop today’s 1,200-horsepower drag racers.
His drag racing accomplishments include winning 46 national events and setting 51 records, becoming a national champion in 1979-80. During an initial retirement stint from the mid-1980s to 1995, he mentored riders and continued to innovate drag racing technologies. He then returned to the hot seat to dust the competition for eight more seasons. Before retiring in 2003 at age 66, he set the International Hot Rod Association nitro-fuel record of 6.36 seconds at 224.21 miles per hour.
Until his passing in December 2015, Price was actively involved in his Harley-Davidson and Triumph dealerships and hosting the Ray Price Capital City Bikefest each fall. He also coached the Ray Price Motorsports Racing Team to back-to-back championships in the 2014 and 2015 National Hot Rod Association Top-Fuel Harley Drag Racing Series.
Price is an inducted member of the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame, the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Drag Racing Hall of Fame, the East Coast Drag Times Hall of Fame, and the National Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame.
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…]
NASCAR team owner won 6 Winston Cup championships with Dale Earnhardt behind the wheel, 11 total championships, the Busch Grand National championship in 2001 and the Truck Series title in 1995. Childress drove his own car from 1969 – 1981 and had six top-five and 76 top-10 finishes. [more…]
One of the dominant race car drivers in the early years of Winston Cup racing. Won 46 events, including three Southern 500’s. Captured the 1952 NASCAR championship series and the 1956 Winston Cup points title. [more…]
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Among the leading all-time winners on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit, and a two-time Grand National Champion. Prominent announcer for racing’s television and radio networks. Four-time winner of the Myers Award for contributing the most to auto racing. [more…]
Won 50 NASCAR races in 14 years as a driver. Later, as team owner, his cars dominated the Winston Cup circuit for many years. Only person named to National Motorsports HOF as both driver and owner. Named by Sports Illustrated as greatest NASCAR driver of all time. [more…]
One of stock car racing pioneers, father of Richard and grandfather of Kyle. Won three NASCAR Grand National titles as a driver and in one 12-year period never finished lower than sixth. Voted NASCAR’s most popular driver three times. [more…]
Stock car racing’s undisputed King, one of those most responsible for sport going national. First driver to win $1 million. Seven-time Winston Cup champion, won 200 races before retiring. Now owns and runs own racing team. [more…]
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Lowe’s Motor Speedway has been under the direction of president and general manager H.A. “Humpy” Wheeler since 1975. Utilizing his innovative style of entertainment promotion and his extensive motorsports background, Wheeler has helped transform the 1.5-mile superspeedway into one of the world’s leading sports facilities. [more…]