In 2015, Richard Childress celebrates his 46th year as Chief Executive Officer of Richard Childress Racing. This season, Childress will field six full-time entries, including three in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and three in the NASCAR Nationwide Series; along with one part-time entry in each series.
A childhood dream of becoming a race car driver began while selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium. A 17-year-old Childress bought his first race car for $20 and went on to build what is widely considered one of the legendary organizations in the history of motorsports. From 1969 to 1981, Childress competed in the Sprint Cup Series as a driver, recording six top-five and 76 top-10 finishes in 285 starts. He finished fifth in the driver championship point standings in 1975 and earned top-10 points finishes in five of the eight full seasons in which he competed. He retired as a driver in mid-1981, naming Dale Earnhardt to finish the season in his car with 10 races remaining.
Ricky Rudd joined RCR in 1982 and gave Childress his first Sprint Cup Series victory as an owner in 1983 at Riverside (Calif.) International Speedway. Earnhardt returned for the 1984 season, and together with Childress formed one of the most potent combinations in NASCAR history. The pair won championship titles in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994.
RCR was a one-team shop (No. 3 team) from 1969-1994. A Camping World Truck Series program (No. 3) was added in 1995 and a second Sprint Cup Series team (No. 31) added for the 1997 season. A two-team NASCAR Nationwide Series program (Nos. 2 and 21) was started for the 2000 season and the Camping World Truck Series team ceased operation. A third Sprint Cup Series team (former No. 30, most recently No. 07) was started in 2001 to run a part-time schedule and became a full-time program in 2002. A third Nationwide Series team (No. 29) was added in 2006 to run a partial schedule with Jeff Burton and became a full-time program in 2007. Two years later, the No. 33 Sprint Cup Series team was formed, giving RCR four entries for the 2009 season.
The Welcome, N.C.-based organization returned to three Sprint Cup Series teams in 2010 and rejuvenated its Camping World Truck Series program (No.3) with Childress’ oldest grandson, Austin Dillon, behind the wheel. RCR also added an ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards team (No. 31) in 2010 before expanding to four Sprint Cup Series entries, two Truck Series and two ARCA teams for the 2011 season. Youngest grandson Ty Dillon began to compete under the RCR banner in 2011 running in the ARCA Racing Series. In 2012, RCR’s competition program featured three teams in each of NASCAR’s top-three national series.
Childress was the first NASCAR team owner to win championships in NASCAR’s top-three series, claiming titles in the Sprint Cup Series (Dale Earnhardt), Nationwide Series (Kevin Harvick, 2001; Harvick and Johnny Sauter, 2003; Harvick, 2006; Burton and Scott Wimmer, 2007; Clint Bowyer, 2008 and Austin Dillon in 2013) and Camping World Truck Series (Mike Skinner, 1995; A. Dillon, 2011). Ty Dillon clinched championship honors in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards in 2011.
In addition to championship accolades, Childress has led teams to Sprint Cup Series victories at 19 of 23 tracks on the current schedule and at 21 facilities overall (including defunct tracks North Wilkesboro Speedway and North Carolina Speedway). RCR has over 200 victories in NASCAR competition, including the 1998 and 2007 Daytona 500 and the 1995, 2003 and 2011 Brickyard 400 events.
Developing talent has been a strong tradition under Childress’ eye with numerous Rookie of the Year awards granted to RCR drivers. The Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year award in 1997 was granted to Skinner and in 2001 to Harvick. Harvick also won the Nationwide Series Rookie of the Year award in 2000 and RCR drivers have captured the Camping World Truck Series Rookie of the Year honors for three consecutive years (Austin Dillon, 2010; Joey Coulter, 2011; Ty Dillon, 2012).
Keeping his teams in championship contention, RCR clinched its first berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in 2006 with the teams of Burton and Harvick. All three RCR Sprint Cup Series teams (Bowyer, Burton and Harvick) captured Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup positions in 2007, 2008 and 2010 and Harvick represented the Welcome, N.C. organization in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 where Ryan Newman and the No. 31 team finished second in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Childress’ drivers are not the only ones who have received honors throughout the years. Numerous accolades have been bestowed on Childress himself. He was named the 2001 NASCAR Owner of the Year by The Sporting News. He also earned the award in 2006 and 2010. In 2008, Childress was the recipient of the Humanitarian of the Year Award for his role in establishing the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. In 2011 he collected one of NASCAR’s prestigious and longest-running awards, the Buddy Shuman Award, that recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to NASCAR racing. Childress was also inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame at Talladega Superspeedway and the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame at Darlington Raceway in 2012.