Richard Childress kicked off the festivities ahead of his organization’s 50th anniversary season by taking care of a piece of business. That consisted of the formal toast with RCR employees at the team’s Welcome, North Carolina headquarters Friday morning.
What followed was a fun moment, one Childress hopes he and his group have plenty of next season. Childress stood at the podium, champagne bottle in hand, and noted, “when you’re in the winner’s circle at the racetrack, this is how you celebrate” which he followed by taking a nice swig.
“Whew, that was good,” Childress said.
Going into a milestone year, Friday was a chance for Childress to thank all those – past and present – who’ve played a part in making it happen. The champion team owner and NASCAR Hall of Fame member reflected on his meager racing beginnings, which included selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem before purchasing his first racecar for $20.
“Man, 50 years,” Childress said. “I’ll tell you it’s been one hell of a ride. And that ride wasn’t just Richard Childress; I look around this room … it’s about you all. It’s not about me. I was just a part of it, and it was a dream.
“Only in America, only in America, could a kid with a dream and an old $20 racecar be standing here today 50 years later.”
Revealing that he had recently been asked why he’s still in the business, the 73-year-old team owner said his simple reply was that he wants to win.
“Hell, I never thought I’d live to be 50 much less be racing 50 years,” Childress chuckled. “I started racing at Bowman Gray Stadium in 1963, I think I was 17 or 18 years old and to still be around and here today is a tribute to all the people that I’ve been fortunate to be around. Great drivers. I could just go on and on. The race fans that push us each weekend to go out and do good for them.”
Everything with RCR revolves around racing, and that was evident even during its celebration.
Amid unveiling its 50th-anniversary logo and a video of RCR’s greatest hits, a few pieces of news were announced. The celebration will continue in Daytona as Austin Dillon and Daniel Hemric will run gold cars. Hemric is also going to be running the No. 8 instead of the No. 31, as he competes for Rookie of the Year honors. His partners and paint schemes were also rolled out.
Dr. Jerry Punch, formerly of ESPN, served as the event’s moderator and riled up the group by telling them he was taking a picture from the podium. Punch said he wanted to document the moment because he had a specific caption in mind for Twitter.
“This is what the championship team looked like before the 2019 season began,” Punch said, “because I think great things are ahead.”
Having to hold another toast one year from now? Childress wouldn’t mind.
“That gives everybody in this room an extra boost to go out and not let him down,” Childress said of Punch’s declaration. “[To] go out and win that championship with Austin or Daniel.”