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NASCAR’S Carolina Hot Spots: Hendrick Motorsports

January 14, 2010

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Hendrick Motorsports has been synonymous with winning. Nine Sprint Cup championships (188 series victories), three Camping World Truck Series titles (25 series victories), and one Nationwide Series championship (29 series wins), you can’t argue with Rick Hendrick’s level of success. The man can put together a racing team and watch it win. Fans of Hendrick Motorsports’ past or current drivers can take a trip over to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit their museum and race shop.

Rick Hendrick owns a sprawling facility about five minutes away from the Lowes Motor Speedway. Up the hill from a beautiful lake are the race shops themselves: one building for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin, the other for Jeff Gordon and four time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. Each will allow you to peek into the shops where you’ll find mechanics working on each driver’s vehicles. To be perfectly honest, this can get boring fairly quickly once you realize that, aside from the off chance of seeing Johnson crew chief Chad Knaus (which I have on one occasion), it’ll start to resemble watching your mechanic work on your own car. The big difference is that their paint scheme is much different than yours, not to mention their cars will go much faster. For my money, the real action in that spot is in the trophy areas, particularly in Gordon and Johnson’s building. Their trophy section makes the Earnhardt Jr./Martin spot look like a work in progress. Plus, seeing the monster trophy from the Dover International Speedway is pretty cool.

The heart of this visit is in the gift shop and museum, the first building on your right. Along with the various driver goodies, drivers’ firesuits, helmets and other trophies are the cars that brought Rick Hendrick his successes. “Hollywood” Tim Richmond’s ’87 Monte Carlo, Jimmie Johnson’s 2007 Sprint Cup championship car (as well as his “Always in our Hearts” tribute to those who died in the Martinsville helicopter crash), Gordon’s various cars, the pit crew box for Johnson’s 2006 championship, all of it showcasing pieces of Hendrick Motorsports history. The real eye catcher is Ken Schrader’s #25 Budweiser car, the same one that flipped multiple times at  Talladega in 1995. The sides and back battered, the front end nearly completely destroyed, it’s a wonder he walked away from that accident at all. Seeing that car alone is worth the trip.

Despite it’s size, you won’t spend too much time here. The time you do spend is well worth the effort. With the Lowes Motor Speedway, Dirt Track at Charlotte, and the brand new ZMAX dragway close by, that little corner around Concord and Charlotte will give any racing fan plenty to see.

Hendricks Motorsports’ website:

http://www.hendrickmotorsports.com

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