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A History of Richard Childress Racing, The Team Behind Austin Dillon's NASCAR Career

"Austin Dillon's Life In The Fast Lane" focuses a lot on the racer's life in Richard Childress Racing.

Austin Dillon celebrating his 2018 Daytona 500 win with his team

Austin Dillon’s Life In The Fast Lane” will focus heavily on the champion NASCAR racer’s family life, which is fitting given that family has played an integral role in his racing career so far. 

Those familiar with motorsports know that Dillon races with the Richard Childress Racing team, which was founded by none other than his grandfather, the titular Richard Childress. 

The acclaimed team plays a massive part in the day-to-day life of Austin and thus his new USA Network series. To get NASCAR fans excited for the show, we thought it would be a good idea to give a brief rundown of the storied history behind his grandfather and the dynamic, winning team he created decades ago. 

Early Days

According to its website, Richard Childress Racing got its start in 1969 when Childress and a friend split the $20 cost of a beat-up 1947 Plymouth that was previously used as a taxi cab. The duo flipped a coin to see who would actually drive the car on the racetrack, and Childress won. With that, a career was born.

That year, issues with the tracks causing tire failures forced 16 drivers to boycott the race at Talladega Speedway. This opened the door for less seasoned racers such as Childress to compete. He earned a so-so 23rd-place finish, but it was enough to get him on the professional circuit and thus, Richard Childress Racing was born. 

From Driver To Owner

The early days were tough since Childress was something of a one-man band, acting as driver, head mechanic, and chief engine builder. After years of essentially living at the race track and working side jobs to make ends meet, he realized it was time for a change. 

Fortunately, by 1983 he had a handful of staff and was able to retire from driving and focus on ownership. He handed the keys to the No. 3 car over to Ricky Rudd. With him at the wheel, RCR earned its first NASCAR win at Riverside International Speedway. The team would end that year with two wins total and four pole awards. However, their best days were somehow still ahead. 

The Earnhardt Years

The RCR website notes that when 1984 rolled around, the team bet big on a driver who, at 30, was said to be past his prime. That driver was none other than Dale Earnhardt, who took the keys to the No. 3 car and began a long and storied career that took both him and Richard Childress Racing to Victory Lane several times.

Together in the 1980s and 1990s, RCR and Earnhardt dominated motorsports. They earned 200 victories and 16 championships, including six in the NASCAR Cup Series, according to NASCAR. In short, they were legendary together. Finally, in 1998, they earned the crown jewel of the NASCAR community: A win at the Daytona 500 championship. Although it would not be its last, the win made Richard Childress Racing one of the most impressive teams in NASCAR history. So, naturally, it was time to grow. 

After expanding the team, Richard Childress Racing became the first team to win championships in all three of NASCAR’s top touring series thanks to a win by Kevin Harvick in 2001. Today, it’s one of the largest teams in NASCAR, boasting more than 400 team members on its website who support multiple teams in the Cup and XFINITY Series.  

All In The Family

Austin Dillon joined RCR in the early 2000s, having worked his way up in the ranks of amateur stock car and dirt car racing. Today, Austin and his brother, Ty, both full-time racers, have both brought home some pretty impressive accolades. In fact, Austin even took over the No. 3 car for RCR following Earnhardt’s tragic death in 2001

Now, fans get the best look yet at the inner workings of one of the best teams in NASCAR history by way of “Austin Dillon’s Life In The Fast Lane,” which is set to premiere on USA Network on June 23.

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