Hendrick Motorsports Cars at Food Lion AutoFair
Hendrick Motorsports, the auto racing superpower headquartered one-mile from Lowe's Motor Speedway, was started by two men who had little more than a dream. Rick Hendrick was a Charlotte automobile dealer and owner of a championship-winning drag boat team who wanted to find a way into stock car racing; and Harry Hyde was a veteran mechanic and crew chief not yet ready to be put out to pasture.
Combining the business principles Hendrick utilized in the automobile industry with the master's degree Hyde had from racing's school of hard knocks, the two formed All-Star Racing and selected modified champion Geoff Bodine to drive their No. 5 Chevrolet. Despite starting the 1984 NASCAR season without a sponsor, the fledgling team soon found success, winning three times in 30 starts, and, as they say, the rest is history.
Today, Hendrick Motorsports employs more than 450 people, operates from a complex of buildings totaling roughly 275,000 square feet and has 117 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series victories to go along with five series championships. It fields four full-time entries in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and one in the NASCAR Busch Series.
"Located just down the road from the speedway, Hendrick Motorsports is kind of like the neighborhood kid we watched grow up and become a phenomenal success," said H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, president and general manager of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "When Rick and Harry started that team 20 years ago, no one dreamed it would grow into the operation it is today and we are honored to host this special Food Lion AutoFair display so fans can celebrate the team's success."
While many will debate the existence of a home-court advantage in auto racing, that's exactly what Hendrick Motorsports appears to enjoy at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
Even before forming the team, Hendrick visited victory lane here in May 1983 as a sponsor of the winning NASCAR Busch Series machine owned by Robert Gee and driven by Dale Earnhardt.
Since then, Hendrick Chevrolets have won 17 races at Lowe's Motor Speedway, including six victories in the Coca-Cola 600 and three each in the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge and UAW-GM Quality 500.
Among the cars scheduled to be part of the Hendrick Motorsports display at the April 1-4 Food Lion AutoFair are a No. 5 Levi Garrett entry driven by Bodine, one of Tim Richmond's No. 25 Folgers Coffee machines and the No. 24 DuPont entry that Jeff Gordon drove to victory in the inaugural Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Brian Vicker's 2003 Busch Series championship GMAC/CARQUEST Chevrolet, Terry Labonte's specially painted No. 5 Iron Man entry and one of Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolets are also among the eight race cars slated to be on hand.
Food Lion AutoFair is the nation's largest automotive extravaganza. The four-day event includes a car show featuring various makes and models from 52 clubs; thousands of vendor spaces that offer a plethora of automotive parts and memorabilia; and a two-day collector car auction conducted by Tom Mack. A car corral, which completely circles the 1.5-mile superspeedway, features nearly 2,000 vehicles of all makes and models that are available for sale or trade.
Food Lion AutoFair hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults with children under 12 admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Parking for the event is $5.
Contact the Lowe's Motor Speedway Events Department at (704) 455-3205 or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com for information.