This is a collection of stories and images for an eight-part series highlighting Richard Childress’ 2017 induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Each of the items will be featured in Childress’ “shadow box” for one year inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Brickyard 400 champion.
Richard Childress liked the sound of that. Just a few years earlier, he was skeptical that NASCAR would ever get the opportunity to race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one of the most prestigious race tracks in all of motorsports. Now, he was standing in Victory Lane there with Dale Earnhardt after dominating the 1995 race.
“The year we won the race, it was unbelievable. It was really special for all of us, and his fans, because we knew how much that race track meant to the motorsports world.” Childress said.
Only a few hours earlier that day – August 5, 1995 – it was pouring rain, leaving everyone to think that the event wouldn’t be held that afternoon. Childress and Earnhardt decided it was best to leave the garage and head back to put on more comfortable clothes.
“It was one of those summer storms and steady rain was falling. We thought, there’s no way we’re going to race today.” Childress said.
Some fans left. Media members got in their car to drive home. The second-ever NASCAR race at IMS was doubtful.
“Dale and I were just about to the car to head to St. Elmo’s steakhouse for an early dinner with our wives. All of the sudden, the skies opened up and it was beautiful outside. I thought, well we should probably head back to the garage. By the time Dale and I got back to the garage, drivers were being called to get in their cars. We almost missed the race!”
Scrambling to get everything together and mentally prepare for what typically is a grueling race in the summer heat, Earnhardt strapped in. Childress never doubted that he was ready.
“We were so fast there in ’94 in the inaugural race at Indy. I knew we would have a shot at winning the race that day. I just had to laugh, though, what would have happened if we were at St. Elmo’s with a shrimp cocktail and the race had started without us.”
Earnhardt dominated the latter part of the race and crossed the finish line first. As the legendary black No. 3 rolled into Victory Lane, a wreath was placed on the hood of the car.
“It was a tip of the cap to Indy car racing when they put that wreath on the car. Dale took a couple of photos with it around his neck and then he handed it to me. It’s is a nice piece of history from that afternoon and a reminder of what happened before the race.”
“I was really in the mood for some St. Elmo’s, but being a Brickyard 400 champion sounds a lot better.”