Rick Hendrick talks humble beginnings, his hall of fame career, and what's next

(Ashley Stroehlein/WBTV)
(Ashley Stroehlein/WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Rick Hendrick has built one of the winningest programs in NASCAR history, but humble beginnings on his family's farm laid the foundation for his success, including one very special memory with his father.

"My dad raced on the weekends, and so we were going to a race up in Richmond, Virginia and we stopped at a service station and there was a '31 Chevrolet," Hendrick said. I've seen lots of '32 Fords, but no '31 Chevrolets. I bought it for 250 dollars, and my dad and I built it in the girl's bathroom of my grandad's general store, which used to be an old school house in rural Virginia. That was my first car, and I used to race it."

Fast forward to 1983 and All Star Racing, better known today as Hendrick Motorsports, was formed.

Richard Petty was originally set to drive for Hendrick, but when that deal fell through it was Geoff Bodine who stepped into the driver's seat for HMS.

"Through 6 races I was really out of money, so I told Harry (Hyde) listen we can't continue, and he said let's go to one more race and that was Martinsville and we won that race and got a little sponsor and the rest is history," Hendrick explained.

That win allowed Hendrick to keep going, and over the years find success with drivers like Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and current driver Jimmie Johnson, who is seeking his 8th Cup Series Championship, which would be the most by any driver.

"Jimmie's not only a driver here, but he's a great friend," Hendrick said. "It's neat for me to watch a young guy have an opportunity and then you know succeed. To see Jimmie Johnson win 7 championships, to see Jeff (Gordon) win championships and Terry that everybody thought he was done he comes here and wins races, wins a championship. I hope I'm around a long time and I can see Chase and William and Alex win."

Hendrick Motorsports 2018 lineup is one of the youngest in the history of NASCAR.

"We've got young William, and Alex, and Chase, and Jimmie. I'm kind of reliving my days of watching Jeff Gordon by watching Chase and William and Alex. It's a lot of fun. I think the second half of the year is going to be a good one for us. We're getting better every week, and competition is tough, but it's fun," Hendrick said.

HMS is still looking for it's first win of the season.

"We're trying to figure the car out a little bit. It's going to be a great race car. It is a great race car, but we're having to tweak it a little bit and it's all on us to give the guys what they need," Hendrick explained.

Throughout his career as a team owner, Hendrick has won 16 Drivers' championships (12 Sprint Cup Series, 1 Xfinity Series, and three Camping World Truck Series), 296 race wins (245 Sprint Cup Series, 26 Xfinity Series, and 26 Truck Series), and 245 pole positions (189 Sprint Cup Series, 35 Xfinity Series, and 21 Truck Series).

So what's left to check off the list for someone who has accomplished so much?

"I've got to do a lot of things in life that I want to do. I'm really enjoying spending time with my grandchildren and seeing them blossom in sports and schoolwork," Hendrick said. "I love seeing our companies do well. We fed 75,00 families at Easter and we've taken that challenge on across the country. We're going to try and feed 100,00 people this year so to give back and do things for the community and do things for the people are in organization."

"I've been very fortunate and been very blessed so I'm happy. I'd like to win more races, but you know you learn in this sport it's a roller coaster. You can't stay on top all the time, although you work hard to try to be," Hendrick said.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.