Joseph Riddick "Rick" Hendrick III is the owner of the Hendrick Automotive Group and Hendrick Motorsports. Born in Palmer Springs, Virginia, on July 12, 1949, Rick Hendrick was setting speed records at local tracks at age 14. Two years later, he won the Virginia division of the Chrysler-Plymouth Troubleshooting Contest. He continued repairing and reselling cars while studying engineering at North Carolina State University. At age 25, Hendrick became the youngest Chevrolet dealer in the country.
Hendrick Motorsports, which started as a one-car team in 1984, is the most highly valued team in NASCAR, as well as its most successful, as of 2015. Hendrick's teams have won more than 200 races and 11 championships in NASCAR's premier series. Hendrick Automlive Group has grown from a small dealership in Bennettsville, South Carolina, to the nation's largest privately held automotive group, with nearly 100 dealerships, 139 franchises and $7.5 billion in annual revenue.
Along with unparalleled success in both auto sales and auto racing stretching over his 40-year career, Hendrick has had his share of personal tragedies and triumphs. He was diagnosed with leukemia in late 1996, which went into remission three years later. In 1997, Hendrick pleaded guilty to mail fraud, for which he was fined $250,000 and placed on house arrest for one year. He received a full pardon from President Bill Clinton in 2000.
In October 2004, a plane was carrying Hendrick's son, brother, two nieces and four others with close ties to the Hendrick organization, when it crashed near Martinsville, Virginia, killing all on board. Since that tragic day, Rick Hendrick has been inducted into the Corvette Hall of Fame, the International Motor Sports Hall of Fame, the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame.