Driving To Deliver Your Business

Richard Childress Racing History 1969 1983: Humble Beginnings …

RCR - Quicken Loans Racing

The Golden-ish Age

It s said that the Golden Age of NASCAR took place between the early sixties and mid-seventies, the era of the American muscle car. Commonly referred to as Generation 2, this model of NASCAR is still highly praised by both drivers and fans alike, and features the iconic Ford Fairlane, the winged Dodge Daytona and the Chevrolet Monte Carlo. These were the years when racers ran about 60 races a season, Richard Petty earned the name The King and many of today s most beloved tracks were constructed. One such track was the Talladega Superspeedway. Opening in 1969, Talladega caused a lot of controversy due to concerns about tire wear and projected high speeds. These safety hazards led to a driver strike during the inaugural running of the Talladega 500, in which replacement drivers filled many of the spots. Among these replacement drivers was a young Richard Childress, who began his Winston Cup career that muggy September day. Despite placing 23rd due to a race-ending axle problem, the racing world would see much more of Childress in the coming years.

Richard Childress was born in the humble, NASCAR-infused town of Winston-Salem, NC. There, Childress began working concessions at the local race track. Childress bought his first race car in 1965 for a mere $20, and four years later, he found himself in Talladega as an owner/driver in a 1968 Chevy, #13. Perhaps the #13 truly is unlucky, or maybe it was the infamous Talladega curse, but either way, Childress wouldn t return to racing until 1973 with #96. Over the remainder of the decade, Childress would prove to be a decent driver, finishing 76 times in the top 10, but unfortunately never winning a race behind the wheel.

It was during the 1976 season that Childress changed to the now-iconic #3. As a driver and owner in the 1970s, Childress remained very hands-on, building his cars and even acting as an independent driver for most of those years until he gained his first sponsorship, CRC Chemical. As the Golden Age came to a close, so did Childress s driving career. But just on the horizon was a new era of racing, and a new, more intimidating king was about to be crowned.

From Operator to Owner

Childress officially retired as a driver halfway through the 1981 season and immediately picked up the young daredevil, Dale Earnhardt, who was fresh off a Winston Cup Championship, as well as a dispute with his current owner, Osterlund Racing. Earnhardt, who had also just won Rookie of the Year, brought with him the Wrangler Jeans sponsorship that propelled RCR into the big leagues, allowing them to really craft the car around Earnhardt. Unfortunately, this partnership would only last until the end of the 1981 season, in which Earnhardt left to join Bud Moore Engineering after posting six top-10 finishes.

Ricky Rudd and Piedmont Airlines came in to replace Earnhardt and Wrangler on the RCR team in 1982. Rudd was coming from DiGard Motorsports, and he brought with him a lengthy streak of race starts, despite never having won a race. Rudd s first year on the team, he finished ninth in points but still couldn t grab the checkered flag. Having been a racer in the Winston Cup series for almost 10 years now, Rudd was itching for that first win. His second year with RCR, they walked away with two.

The 1983 Budweiser 400 at Riverside International Raceway was the race that fulfilled Childress s lifelong dream: to finish first place in a Winston Cup event. Although this win wasn t earned as a driver, nothing could ve matched that feeling of victory Childress felt as he was hoisted up on Rudd and crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine s shoulders after that race.

RCR continued to have its best season yet, winning the Goody s 500 at Martinsville Speedway and once again finishing ninth in points at the end of the season. Despite a historic season for RCR, it ended in quite an odd twist of events. Rudd actually replaced Earnhardt on Bud Moore s team, inheriting the #15 Thunderbird and Earnhardt s long-held sponsor, Wrangler, which would now represent both drivers. Ricky Rudd would continue to have success in the Winston Cup series and eventually earn the name Iron Man after setting the record for most consecutive starts in 2002.

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