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NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee spotlight: Richard Childress

Richard Childress began his NASCAR career as an owner/driver. He bought his first race car for $20 at the age of 17 and made it to the NASCAR ranks in 1969, serving as a replacement driver at Talladega Superspeedway during a drivers' strike. After he broke into the NASCAR world, he continued to drive his own car until 1981. During that time, he made 285 starts at the Cup level. Those starts included six top-five finishes and 76 top-10s. His highest points finish was fifth in 1975.

Childress' career as a car owner, however, skyrocketed after he decided to put another driver in his car in 1981. That driver was Dale Earnhardt. Earnhardt din't drive for Childress every year from 1981 until his death in 2001. The two went their separate ways for the 1982 season when Earnhardt left Richard Childress Racing to drive for Bud Moore, but he came back a couple of years later to drive for RCR in 1984 and never left the team again.

The two reunited in 1984 and that's when Childress' career as a NASCAR team owner really took off. With Earnhardt behind the wheel, RCR claimed six Cup titles -- 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993, and 1994.

Championships won with Earnhardt aren't the only ones to Childress' credit. Across NASCAR's three national Series -- Camping World Truck, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup -- RCR has 11 championships. Childress was the first car owner to claim titles in all three of NASCAR's national series. One of those championships was the first one ever awarded in the Truck Series, as driver Mike Skinner won that title for him in the series' inaugural year.

RCR now fields Sprint Cup cars for Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, and Kevin Harvick, and over the years, Childress' owned cars have pulled into victory lane 90 times at the Cup level. Childress also fields an entry in the Nationwide Series that has had multiple drivers behind the wheel this year and a truck in the Camping World Truck Series that is being driven by his grandson, Austin Dillon.

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Richard Childress HoF Headshot
Richard Childress
Photo courtesy of ISC Archives/Getty Images


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