Hometown: Winston-Salem, N.C.
Richard Childress, long before he became one of the preeminent car owners in NASCAR history, was a race car driver himself, with limited means. Still, he persevered, which is what you do when you purchase your first race car for $20 at the age of 17.
Childress, the consummate self-made racer, was respectable behind the wheel. Between 1969-81 he had six top-five finishes and 76 top 10s in 285 starts, finishing fifth in the NASCAR premier series standings in 1975.
Having formed Richard Childress Racing in 1972, Childress retired from driving in 1981. The rest, as they say, is history.
Much of that history is linked to one of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt, who won six championships and 67 races between 1984-2000 for RCR.
But Childress has had other successes. In addition to Earnhardt’s championships, Childress drivers have given him five others. His total of 11 national series owner championships is second all-time. Childress was the first NASCAR owner to win championships in all three of NASCAR’s national series.
Along the way, Childress has excelled off the track. He was one of the first owners to recognize the market potential for race team collectables. In recent years he established his own winery in North Carolina. And in 2008, Childress was recognized for his role in establishing the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
That $20 race car seems a light year away.
This is the latest in a series of GodfatherMotorsports.com biographies profiling the 25 nominees for the 2012 class of the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Each of the 25 candidates will be profiled in the coming weeks, in alphabetical order.