I am sure some of you out there now have heard that Richard “Pop-Pop” Childress has finally been inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Richard started 285 races as a driver and had 76 top 10’s in those starts. That’s an average of 26.6% for top 10’s. His Hall of Fame nomination and induction come from being an owner.
As an owner Richard Childress has:
- 1 ARCA Championship
- 2 NASCAR Truck Championships
- 4 Grand National Championships
- 6 Cup Championships
- 212 Combined NASCAR victories
- 10 (?) ARCA victories
- 149 NASCAR pole positions
- 6 Pit Crew Championships
Richard Childress Racing, under the ownership of Richard Childress, has been in operation since 1969. That’s a full 47 years. The team has competed in over 4,000 races combined. The team employs over 500 people, this during a time when so many companies are downsizing.
In addition to the race team, he helped establish Earnhardt-Childress Racing Technologies, currently known as ECR engines who supply engines for not just NASCAR competition but also the United Sports Car Series, ARCA, SCCA, and many more. With over 250 victories and counting this just continues to add on to the legacy that is built more each and every week.
While the Hall of Fame typically only inducts those who have been retired at least 5 years, I do agree that owners should be granted a special exemption. With his grandchildren being involved in racing, I do not see him leaving the track anytime soon. To hold this honor back from a man such as Richard, would be a tragedy. He deserves to be inducted while he can still enjoy the honor. The greatest tragedy that occurs with any Hall of Fame is when they withhold the honor until the member has passed away.
If it hadn’t been for Richard and Dale, the sport of NASCAR would not be where it is today. The 2 men helped evolve and change the sport. They brought bigger sponsors, they brought about bigger and better TV deals. They changed the sport to one of the greatest spectator sports in the world. Both needed each other and now both… Are in the Hall of Fame.
As a child I looked up to Dale Earnhardt as a hero, as I grew up I realized that heroes rarely do it alone. Before I was 18 I looked up to Richard Childress. His drive, his determination, his foresight. He had the ability to change when needed, to get out of the seat and look for a new way to excel. My grandfather told me stories of Richard as a driver, who would get out and pit his own car, grab a piece of chicken out of the bucket, climb back in and take off on tires he himself had just put on with the chicken hanging out of his mouth. Now my grandfather could exaggerate at times, but I doubt old Lester was lying to me about this.
I heard how Richard would live on peanut butter sandwiches to put all available money in his car. I heard how he would pull into town and would put any sponsor on the side of the car that would feed him and his crew for the weekend as long as he had money for gas. Doing this, he managed to place in the top 10 in points 5 out of 6 years and finished 5th overall in points in 1975.
With all the history that Richard Childress has made and helped make it is only a wonder to me that he wasn’t nominated and put into the NASCAR Hall of Fame sooner. So, Mr. Childress, if you are out there and you happen to read my blog I just want to say….
…and thank you, for giving fans someone we can look up to, admire, emulate, and follow every week. I know we are all proud of you and happy for you.
-Jonathan A. Gruenke-