Note: This is a collection of stories and images for an eight-part series highlighting Richard Childress’ induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame class of 2017. Each of the items will be featured in Childress’ “shadow box” for one year inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Richard Childress’ driving career spanned over a decade in NASCAR, and through a majority of those years he endured the struggles of competing as an independent owner and driver. Most of the time he was underfunded, which meant he needed to compromise when buying parts, equipment and supplies.
“I made the most of what I had,” Childress said. “I tried to control what I could control and not complain about circumstances.”
New race supplies were rare. Getting creative with recycling parts meant saving money. Childress admits, he was pretty imaginative back in his racing days.
“I can’t even begin to tell you where I got some of my race parts,” he said.
That included his driving helmet
Tucked away in Childress’ personal memorabilia collection, is his old racing helmet, burnt orange in color. The open-face helmet was used during the mid-1970s for, “way more than once season,” Childress said.
“It was just an old Bell helmet,” said Childress. “I’ve cracked quite a few back in my day. We probably should have replaced them a lot more often than we did.”
He wasn’t able to recall where he purchased it, but recognized it as having raced far too many times. It was a perfect piece to be displayed in his NASCAR Hall of Fame exhibit to represent his days as a driver, and to also show how far the sport has come.
The helmet’s design is relatively modest; barely getting by meant Childress rarely thought about wearing flashy things. Hand painted by a friend, the letters “R” and “C” plastered on the helmet’s right side was about as showy as Childress wanted.