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"When you start with nothing, the only way forward is up," certainly seems true of Richard Childress. He knew poverty and hard times as a youngster but grew up to enjoy much success in multiple business ventures and considerable fame in NASCAR. Best known as the team owner of the formidable Richard Childress Racing team (RCR), Childress talks to Dave Despain this Sunday, October 18 at 8:30pm ET. Childress got into racing to become a winning stock car driver, but ended up building one of the most legendary racing organizations in motorsports history, with great triumphs and tragedies along the way.
"I started selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium as a kid. I would sit down and watch the race as just a little kid and I said 'this is what I want to do some day.'" Richard Childress
Over its 45-year history, RCR has become synonymous with success and championships. RCR has earned 15 total championships (six Sprint Cup Series championships with Dale Earnhardt in 1986, '87, '90, '91, '93 and '94, six NASCAR XFINITY Series titles, two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series titles and one ARCA Racing Series), and was the first organization to win titles in NASCAR's three national series
Childress began his racing career as a stock car driver, running out of his home garage in Winston-Salem, NC. He retired in 1981 after a consistent career as a driver with several top ten finishes through the years but victory eluded him. Instead that same year, he made the decision to field his first team as an owner and contracted with Dale Earnhardt race the #3 race car for year one. Ricky Rudd was then hired in 1982 and drove for two years, giving Childress his first career victory in June, 1983 at Riverside, CA. Earnhardt returned to RCR for the 1984 season, and together with Childress formed one of the most potent combinations in NASCAR history. They won championships in 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994.
In the mid-1990s, Childress began expanding his racing empire, fielding entries in the Busch series and Craftsman Truck Series. The team won the 1995 Craftsman Truck Series championship in the series' first season. He expanded to a two-car operation, then to three in what is now known as the Sprint Cup and by the first part of the 2000s, he expanded to three cars.
Sadly Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 and Childress promoted Busch driver Kevin Harvick to drive the renumbered #29. RCR became the first team in NASCAR history to win all three of NASCAR's national championship series. RCR also won the Busch Series owners championships in 2003. RCR won the 2011 Camping World Truck Series Championship and the 2013 Nationwide Series Championship, both with Childress' grandson Austin Dillon driving the #3.
In 2015, Richard Childress celebrates his 46th year as Chief Executive Officer of Richard Childress Racing. This season, Childress will field seven full-time entries, including three in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and four in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.