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The Class Of 2017 Says A Lot About Racing In NASCAR

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 21 2017

Jeff Gordon and his long-time boss Rick Hendrick shared some stories during the induction of the Class of 2017 into the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Friday. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Memorable Remarks from the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony:

Richard Childress:  I’d like to start out by saying only in America.  Only in America could a kid selling peanuts and popcorn at Bowman Gray Stadium have a dream of becoming a race driver someday, and then he goes out and buys him an old ’47 Plymouth, pays $20 for it, that was the best investment I ever made, and have a dream of being a NASCAR driver someday, be standing up here tonight to be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  Only in America.  What a great country we live in. …

But there’s one driver in particular, Dale Earnhardt.  I wouldn’t be standing here tonight without him.  He was a great friend and a huge loss to all of us and to our sport.  I knew Dale for over 25 years.  We spent 18 seasons together racing.  I have so many great memories. …  

The first time I met Dale and we were racing.  We were racing down at Metrolina Speedway on the Grand National race that Ned Jarrett put together that day, and was coming into turn 3, Cale Yarborough and myself was racing for the win, and we got together going into turn 3.  I made it back around and won the race. After the race we was standing there having us a few cool ones, Dale was there, and in his ol’ Dale Earnhardt style, he walked over, poked me in the chest, and he said, next time I race with you, I will win. …

Bill (France) Sr., 1969 when we had the boycott in Talladega, I’d ran the race on Saturday, and he gave us the deal money back then to come and race plus what you’d win in the purse.  When the boycott happened he stood on that bench down there, and he said, boys, if y’all race tomorrow, I’ll give you more deal money and you can take the purse.  I left that day with probably more money than I’d ever seen at once in my life, probably 3 or 4 thousand dollars.  I didn’t think I’d ever have to work again.  Hell, I’m still working.  That was the break that really helped RCR get going.  I’ll never forget it. He also gave me a letter, and he said, if you ever need anything, you show this letter to my family, and they’ll take care of you.  If I’d have knew what I know today, I’d have made a lot of copies because I’ve been in a lot of trouble.

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Jeff Gordon:  Some know him as a champion. Some know him as a winner.  Most of us simply know him as Mr. H.  And now that H takes on a new meaning, Mr. Hall of Famer.

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Linda Hendrick, wife of Rick Hendrick:  This is an exciting night, not only for Rick and I but for our family, friends and employees who are here to share this special time.  When Rick and I first met at a service station in Raleigh in 1971, we had no idea of the plans God had in store for us.  We got married, and as the doors of opportunity opened, Rick embraced the challenges.  He boldly and courageously walked through those doors and never looked back.

 That was 46 years ago, and I stand here tonight as a proud wife because of his hard work and passion for racing with the honor, on this 20th day of January, 2017, to present the NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee ring and officially induct my best friend and sweet husband, Rick Hendrick, into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

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Rick Hendrick:  To my wife Linda … 44 years ago this month, we swapped rings.  So this ring is as much for you as it is for me, because there’s nobody that’s sacrificed what you’ve sacrificed for me to do what I’ve done.  She stood in the back of the grocery store with me, and we counted our money before we went to the checkout line.  Our bed in our first house had three legs and Muncie four-speed gearbox for the fourth leg.

When we were boat racing, she was selling T-shirts out of the back of the trailer so we could raise enough money to go back and do it again.  So she sits in church on Sunday, so many Sundays by herself when I’ve been gone for 44 years doing what I love. Tonight, this is as much yours, probably more, than it is mine.  I love you, and thank you for all you’ve done. …

I didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, but I knew what I didn’t want to do, and that was be a tobacco farmer.  But I wouldn’t take anything for the time that I spent with my mom and dad.  They taught me something that really has been the pillar of my life, and that is you need to take care of other people if you want people to take care of you.  You need to take care of your neighbors, and you need to do for others, and then good things will happen to you.

You know, God really blessed me by giving me terrific parents.  My dad taught me how to work with my hands.  It was racing that got me in the automobile business, and I think back to all the lessons.  I’ve got a lot of friends here tonight that are bankers.  My mother taught me how to borrow money.  I’m very good at that.

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Patricia DePottey, granddaughter of NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Raymond Parks:  “Anybody who knew him, he could speak a whole book in two words.  … I asked him how did you get into racing, and in less than 10 minutes, he told me his whole life story.  His story was, well, I got some cars, and I just started winning. … But what really hit me, I think, was the first time I went to the Daytona Speedway, I was sitting in the stands, and it hit me, because everything I had heard growing up, I could see all of them in the Streamline Motel.  I could see the cars racing around in the sand.  I could just envision everything that he accomplished, and it was like all of the stories became real.

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Terri Parsons, Benny Parsons’ wife, on where his NASCAR Hall of Fame ring will be placed: We’re going to put it in the Hall of Fame, because we think about it, the people at home, the fans that are visiting the Hall of Fame, never get to see a ring because we all take them home with us, so we thought we’d like to share this with the people that come through the Hall of Fame so they can see what an actual Hall of Fame ring looks like.

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Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway and grandson of Martinsville founder H. Clay Earles, recipient of the Landmark Award:  I think really the key to his success is what we do today.  He knew the key to that was the fans’ acceptance of what he did.  He also realized that there were three basic components of a successful race track, and that was the drivers, the media and the fans.  

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 21 2017
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