Thursday, April 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Ricky Hendrick

Ricky Hendrick would have turned 29 today. Instead, we are all remembering what a great racecar driver, son, and business owner he was.

Joseph Riddick Hendrick IV, named for his father and known as Ricky, was the future of Hendrick Motorsports. His father, Rick Hendrick, was grooming him to take over the family business after his retirement. He begin in stock car racing as a driver. He started in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, where he became the youngest driver to win a race in 2002. In 2002, he moved up to the NASCAR Busch Series, and was forced to drop driving in October 2003 after injuring his shoulder at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

When asked during an interview with what he would do if he could no longer race, he responded “be president.” Cars was his passion. He definitely inherited that from his father. Shortly after retiring, he purchased a Honda dealership in Pineville, NC. He definitely started to follow closely in his father’s footsteps. He also joined with his grandfather, Papa Joe Hendrick, in managing two of the Hendrick Motorsports cars.

Ricky Hendrick was definitely growing up in front of the fans, other drivers, and even the team owners eyes. He even made the BIG decision to put Brian Vickers behind the wheel of his Busch Series car, against his father’s wishes. Vickers later went on to win the 2003 Busch Series Championship.

On October 24, 2004, Ricky Hendrick passed away. He was on a team flight to the race at Martinsville Speedway in Martinsville, Virginia. Up until his death, he was always thinking racing. He was the owner of the #25 driven by Brian Vickers in the Nextel Cup Series, and the #5 driven by Kyle Busch in the Busch Series.

Rick and Linda Hendrick are always keeping the memory of Ricky alive. The Levine Children’s Hospital dedicated their Pediatric Intensive Care Centers in honor of Ricky Hendrick. The centers feature a five-room sleep in for parents, two private family waiting areas, a large open waiting space, and a state of the art business lounge. "Our family is proud to make this pledge in Ricky's name," said Linda Hendrick, Ricky's mother. "He was a young man who would run, not walk, to wherever he was going. This hospital will make certain that others have the same opportunity."


Tara said...

Awww! Happy Birthday, Ricky!