Dealer Rick Hendrick accepts Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award

Dealer Rick Hendrick accepts Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award

The buildup to multistate dealer and NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick receiving the Keith Crain/Automotive News Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2014 Washington Auto Show on January 22 was impressive.

At the dinner held in Hendricks honor at the Auto Show, Automotive News publisher Keith Crain said that Hendrick built his first car at age 14. Following up on that, GM Global Design chief Ed Welburn, who joined Crain at the podium, told the crowd that Hendrick acquired his first dealership at age 26, becoming the youngest dealer in America. He won three consecutive national racing championships in the 1970s. Crain called Hendrick the most successful NASCAR owner in history.

Nobody has won more [NASCAR] titles in less time, said Crain.

Some years ago, Hendrick was diagnosed with leukemia. But instead of feeling sorry for himself, according to Crain, Hendrick started a national bone marrow donor program, for which he has raised $12 million. He has also raised millions of dollars for the Hendrick Foundation for Children. When his son died in a plane crash, Hendrick created the Ricky Hendrick Scholarship Fund.

Ive been the luckiest guy in the world because I get to do the two things I love most, said Hendrick, selling cars and racing cars.

Telling his own story, Hendrick said he grew up on a farm in Virginia, built a car in his grandfathers general store and acquired a Chevrolet dealership in rural South Carolina that sold 200 cars a year. He started a racing team with a staff of five and ran a dealership with a staff of nine – and no showroom. In 2013 Hendricks dealer organization sold 81,000 vehicles. Nobody is able to do anything in life on their own, he said. In our company, we win together, we lose together, but we stay together.

I accept the award on behalf of the 10,000 people who make it happen.

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