The Richard Childress Racing Museum located in Welcome, North Carolina may contain the largest collection of Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolets, but it is home to a wide variety of items and artifacts from the organization’s nearly 50-year history.
Each week during the 2018 season, we will celebrate Throwback Thursday by featuring an item in the newly redesigned Richard Childress Racing Museum by showcasing its story and unique history to the famed organization.
For this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday we tackle one of the most anticipated events of the 2018 NASCAR season and a hot topic of the annual Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour – the Charlotte Roval – and discover a unique tie to Richard Childress Racing’s past.
NASCAR XFINITY Series regular Daniel Hemric participated in the Goodyear Tire test on the road course last season to help gather data and provide feedback on the layout, while Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the official layout of the 2018 race earlier this week. The excitement around the inaugural event is certainly ramping up.
— Charlotte Motor Speedway (@CLTMotorSpdwy) January 22, 2018
— Charlotte Motor Speedway (@CLTMotorSpdwy) January 23, 2018
While this September’s race will be the first sanctioned event on the Roval, this is not the first time NASCAR and Richard Childress Racing have experimented with running Charlotte’s infield road course.
Between 1985 and 1986, NASCAR was trying to develop a prototype car for a potential Left-Right Series that would run on street and road courses. Legendary NASCAR mechanic and owner Banjo Matthews developed the car, while Richard Childress and the shop in Welcome (which is now home to the RCR Museum and Team Store) set the car up and made it race ready.
The prototype hit the infield road course for the first time in January 1986 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with Childress on hand overseeing things and Dale Earnhardt serving as one of the test drivers.
The test revealed the car needed more modifications to make it lighter and help it get around the left- and right-hand turns of the Charlotte road course. While another test took place later that year, the development series never solidified as a reality in NASCAR.
However, racing on the Charlotte Roval has finally taken hold. The inaugural event will take place the weekend of September 29-30, with both the XFINITY and Cup Series competing on the unique layout as part of the NASCAR Playoffs.
For more on the 1986 test, take a look at this clip from “Inside NASCAR” and hear what Earnhardt had to say about the prototype car and the original infield road course layout at Charlotte Motor Speedway.