Ricky Hendrick, son of Hendrick Motorsports CEO Rick Hendrick, and owner of a Busch Series NASCAR team and Performance Honda of Pineville, died in a plane crash on Sunday, October 24, 2004.
- Full name - Joseph Riddick Hendrick IV
- Birthdate: April 2, 1980
- Deceased: October 24, 2004
- Family - parents Rick & Linda, sister Lynn fiancée Emily, daughter Ricki
- Hometown - Charlotte, North Carolina
- Team - Hendrick Motorsports
Quite frequently introduced as "the son of Rick Hendrick," Joseph Riddick IV, better known as Ricky, is making his mark in racing history. But this introduction should be quite an honor to him, as he always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. At the age of fifteen he began his first organized year of racing, competing in the Legends Series Summer Shootout. Here is where he gained his first pole position on July 18, 1998 and his first win on May 23 of that same year.
He was soon introduced into the NASCAR world at Myrtle Beach in 1999. Qualifying fifth and finishing 20th in his first Busch series race was incredible. Although his parents were a little weary about Ricky racing, they were not about to stop him from doing what he loved.
"It's a lot different when it's your son," Rick Hendrick said. "It's hard to put into words. It's nerves and you want to see him do OK and see him get it home in one piece, it's totally different when it's your son. It's very scary."
He tried his luck in the 2000 series, competing in both the Busch and Truck series. The year was mainly for the experience and to figure out which series he worked better in. In the last Busch race of the 2000 season, the Miami 300, Ricky got into a not-so-serious accident. Although damage on his car was limited, the crew found it best to call it quits for the day. He also crashed at the Busch Grand National's Sam's Club 200, receiving a mild concussion and withdrawing from several following races. Looking on the bright side? It seems as if the 2000 season brought on the worst of it.
Ricky's first full season of NASCAR racing was in 2001. He wound up in the Craftsman Truck series competing for rookie of the year honors. The year brought not only great success but also a few downfalls, as every racer tends to have. He worked with truck series champion and teammate Jack Sprague to prepare himself for what was to come. Ricky gained his first NASCAR win on July 7th, making him the youngest rookie in truck series history to win a race. He also broke the record for most top-10 finishes by a rookie in one season with nineteen. Unfortunately, he lost the rookie of the year race to Travis Kvapil - but most are quick to say they both should have gotten the title, as they were two amazing racers.
For the 2002 season, Ricky, with teammate Jack Sprague, was back in the Busch series. It was a season of mixed results until Ricky crashed hard at Las Vegas, finding himself with a serious shoulder injury. He needed surgery and two months of rest before he could possibly race again. Ron Hornaday substituted for him during this time, but even when Ricky could go back to racing he didn't feel he was living up to his full potential. In October he announced his retirement from racing, stepping back and letting David Green fill in for the remainder of the season.
Although stepping out of the driver's seat, Ricky still loved racing and continued to work for Hendrick Motorsports. He was owner of the #25 Nextel Cup car of Brian Vickers and the #5 Busch Series car of Kyle Busch. He also opened a motorcycle dealership, Ricky Hendrick's Performance Honda, in Pineville, North Carolina.
On October 24, 2004, Ricky was involved in a fatal plane crash on his way to Martinsville Speedway, Virginia. The crash killed ten people total. NASCAR and the Hendrick family have lost a tremendous person but, as the saying goes, the show must go on. Family, friends, and fans must celebrate his life rather than mourn his death. He would not want the world to stop because of this occasion, as proven through his amazing dedication to the sport and his appreciation of life itself.
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